Sunday, February 03, 2019

Civil rights groups warn that Texas voter citizenship check could violate federal law

Voter purging announcement in Texas.  If Republicans really believe in their platform and its appeal to the public, then they should be able to stand on their own two feet and not have to resort to voter purges.  It manufactures unfounded fears that illegal voting is a widespread phenomenon in Texas.  For instance, see today's opinion by the editors of the Austin American-Statesman (print edition) titled, "Botched handling of voter rolls does Texas a disservice," that says as much. 

The advisory that went out on January 25, 2019 Texas Secretary of State David Whitley is provided below.  This January 28, 2019 Texas Tribune piece titled, "Civil rights groups warn that Texas voter citizenship check could violate federal law," shows that our state's civil rights community is responding, alleging possible violations of state law.

We must call out official for making voting that much more difficult.  We must protect democracy and protect the vote.  Glad to see the civil rights community responding.

-Angela Valenzuela

Secretary Whitley Issues Advisory On Voter Registration List Maintenance Activity

"Integrity and efficiency of elections in Texas require accuracy of our state's voter rolls"


Janauary 25, 2019
Contact: Sam Taylor

AUSTIN – Texas Secretary of State David Whitley today issued an advisory to county voter registrars regarding voter registration list maintenance activities, which include identifying any non-U.S. citizens registered to vote in the State of Texas. For the past year, the Texas Secretary of State's office has worked closely with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to evaluate information regarding persons identified to not be citizens of the United States. This voter registration list maintenance activity is being conducted in accordance with federal and state law to ensure that only qualified voters - who must first and foremost be U.S. citizens - are registered to vote in Texas elections.

Through this evaluation, the Texas Secretary of State's office discovered that a total of approximately 95,000 individuals identified by DPS as non-U.S. citizens have a matching voter registration record in Texas, approximately 58,000 of whom have voted in one or more Texas elections. Voting in an election in which the person knows he or she is not eligible to vote is a second-degree felony in the State of Texas. Upon receipt of this information, the Texas Secretary of State's office immediately provided the data in its possession to the Texas Attorney General's office, as the Secretary of State has no statutory enforcement authority to investigate or prosecute alleged illegal activity in connection with an election.

Secretary Whitley issued the following statement:

"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. 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. I would like to thank the Department of Public Safety for providing us with this valuable information so that we can continue to guarantee the right to vote for all eligible Texas voters, who should not have their voices muted by those who abuse the system."

Going forward, the Texas Secretary of State's office will use information it obtains from DPS on a monthly basis to cross-reference with Texas' statewide voter registration database and match potential non-U.S. citizens who have registered to vote. Once a voter registration is identified as a match, the Texas Secretary of State's office will notify the county in which the person is registered so that the county voter registrar can take action.

The following combinations of matches between information in DPS-provided data and the statewide voter registration database are used to identify possible non-U.S. citizens registered to vote:

  • Last Name, First Name, and Full Social Security Number;
  • Last Name, First Name, and DPS-issued Driver License, Personal Identification Card, or Election Identification Certificate Number; or
  • Last Name, First Name, Last Four Digits of Social Security Number, and Date of Birth

If a registered voter is identified as a non-U.S. citizen, he or she should receive a Notice of Examination (PDF) from the county voter registrar indicating that his or her registration status is being examined on the grounds that he or she is not a U.S. citizen. The registered voter will then be required to provide proof of citizenship in order to stay registered, which may be done by submitting to the voter registrar a copy of one of the following documents:

  • A certified copy of the voter's birth certificate
  • United States passport; or
  • Certificate of naturalization (Citizenship certificate)

If the person responds indicating he or she is not a U.S. citizen, or fails to respond to the Notice within 30 days, then the voter registration will be cancelled by the county voter registrar. County voter registrars have been provided with numerous training opportunities to ensure that list maintenance activities are conducted in accordance with state and federal law so as to not affect eligible voters.

Texas voters who wish to check their registration status can visit the Texas Secretary of State's "Am I Registered?" tool online or contact the voter registrar in their county of registration.

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