A list of approximately 95,000 registered voters flagged by the Texas secretary of state’s office for citizenship reviews includes around 100 people in Grayson County, Elections Administrator Deana Patterson said.
In an advisory released Friday afternoon, the secretary of state’s office said it was flagging individuals who had provided the Texas Department of Public Safety with some form of documentation — including a work visa or a green card — that showed they were not a citizen when they were obtaining a driver’s license or an ID card. Among the individuals flagged, about 58,000 individuals cast a ballot in one or more elections from 1996 to 2018, the secretary of state’s office said.
The individuals flagged for citizenship reviews provided the Texas Department of Public Safety with a form of documentation that showed they were not a citizen when they were obtaining a Texas driver’s license or ID card. A press release issued by the secretary of state’s office said approximately 58,000 of those flagged voted in one or more elections between 1996 and 2018.
“Integrity and efficiency of elections in Texas require accuracy of our state’s voter rolls, and my office is committed to using all available tools under the law to maintain an accurate list of registered voters,” Texas Secretary of State David Whitley said in a press release. “Our agency has provided extensive training opportunities to county voter registrars so that they can properly perform list maintenance activities in accordance with federal and state law, which affords every registered voter the chance to submit proof of eligibility.”
On Tuesday, the Texas Tribune reported officials in Harris, Travis, Fort Bend, Collin and Williamson counties received calls Tuesday from the secretary of state’s office indicating some of the voters on the list were incorrectly included because they had submitted voting registration applications at Texas Department of Public Safety offices.
In a statement issued Tuesday to the Texas Tribune, secretary of state spokesman Sam Taylor said Texas officials were providing counties with information as “part of the process of ensuring no eligible voters were impacted by any list maintenance activity.”
“This is to ensure that any registered voters who provided proof of citizenship at the time they registered to vote will not be required to provide proof of citizenship as part of the counties’ examination,” Taylor said.
Patterson said her department will contact each of the approximately 100 voters listed from Grayson County.
“Our office will not be canceling voters until we have corresponded directly with the voter on their current citizenship status,” Patterson said.
Patterson said the county doesn’t have a system in place to do the review, so she and her staff are currently working on that process.
“Since we have just received all of the information, we will review all thoroughly and determine best practices,” she said, adding that it will likely take 45-60 days for that process to be completed.
In its press release, the secretary of state’s office said registered voters identified as non-citizens should receive a “Notice of Examination” from the county registrar indicating their registration status is being examined. The registered voter will then be “required to provide proof of citizenship in order to stay registered.” Individuals indicating they are not a U.S. citizen — and those who don’t respond within 30 days — will have their voter registration canceled by the voter registrar, the press release said.
The secretary of state’s office also wrote voting in “an election in which the person knows he or she is not eligible to vote” is a second-degree felony in Texas. The Texas Tribune reported state election officials have pointed out it’s possible many of the voters flagged by the secretary of state’s office could have become naturalized citizens since obtaining their driver’s licenses or ID cards.
Latino civil rights group the League of United Latin American Citizens filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Whitley and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in federal court in San Antonio.
“It’s clear that the right-wing elements in Texas government are trying to rig the system to keep power and disenfranchise 95,000 American citizens,” LULAC National President Domingo Garcia said in a news item on the group’s website. “There is no voter fraud in Texas, it’s a lie, repeated time and again to suppress minority voters and we’re going to fight hard against it.”
While that is the only lawsuit that has been filed, the Texas Tribune said other civil rights groups have warned Texas’ recommended procedure for verifying citizenship status could violate federal law, and several are considering additional litigation against the state.