Citizens fighting the discriminatory voter purge effort by the Texas Secretary of State, Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton claimed an important victory today when they forced State Republican leaders to admit that a list of over 98,000 alleged non-citizens is irreparably flawed and cannot be used to justify the removal of any Texas voter from current registration rolls.
The details of the settlement can be seen here. Key state concessions include:
- The Secretary of State will rescind the order directing counties to use the flawed list to analyze voter eligibility.
- Counties must advise any voter whose status was questioned under the previous guidelines that their eligibility to vote is no longer questioned.
- The list obtained by the State from DPS will include only individuals who provide information confirming they are not citizens.
- The State will not request data from DPS indicating the ethnicity of any individual.
- The State must pay plaintiffs $450,000 to cover legal costs incurred.
Texas Republican leaders concocted the phony 98,000-person list and the voter purge plan to further promote the illusion of widespread voter fraud in Texas. Almost immediately after the phony list was announced in January, Texas AG Ken Paxton issued a press release advancing the voter fraud myth. Even Donald Trump falsely tweeted that the list confirmed voter fraud.
Texas citizens represented by minority advocacy and voter protection groups – including LULAC, MALDEF and the Campaign Legal Center – challenged the purge effort in court and forced today’s settlement after having already won their argument in federal district court earlier this year.
The controversy surrounding the Republican voter purge effort may have doomed any chance that acting Secretary of State David Whitley will be confirmed by the Texas Senate. Whitley’s participation in the voter purge scheme and his willingness to use the office of Secretary of State for vote suppression efforts are disqualifying.
Comments by Lone Star Project Director, Matt Angle
- “Here’s a good rule of thumb to judge any Texas Republican initiative on voting. If Greg Abbott supports it, Ken Paxton enforces it and Donald Trump tweets about it, the intention is to suppress turnout and to discriminate.”
- “You need guts to take on a Republican leadership in Texas that is hell-bent to suppress the vote to hold power. Brave Texas citizens supported by devoted advocacy organizations and represented by tough, skillful attorneys won this important battle for justice and basic voting rights.”
- “There is nothing novel about a Greg Abbott-led Republican leadership engaging in discrimination and vote suppression. Fear of new voters – particularly voters of color – is the hallmark of one-party Republican leadership in Texas”
- “The most notable aspects of today’s settlement are admissions by Abbott and Paxton that their 98,000-person list is bogus and that their voter purge efforts are unfair and improper.”
- “Don’t expect Texas Republican leaders to abandon vote suppression as their favored tactic and racial discrimination as their underlying strategy. From Greg Abbott to John Cornyn and on down the ladder, Republicans know that if voter turnout reflects the actual racial and geographic make-up of Texas citizens, then one-party Republican control will end.”
Earlier this year, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley moved forward with a plan to use a list of over 95,000 Texas residents alleged to be noncitizens to force counties to remove voters from their rolls. AG Ken Paxton weighed in by calling the list an example of widespread voter fraud. The entire operation was encouraged and supported by Governor Abbott. However, after only a cursory review, the list was found to be riddled with errors and to include tens of thousands of citizens legally registered and eligible to vote.
Minority advocacy and voter protection groups – including LULAC, MALDEF, and the Campaign Legal Center – filed suit in federal district court on behalf of citizens targeted by State leaders. Federal District Court Judge Fred Biery issued an order stopping the voter purge effort, which resulted in settlement talks and today’s concessions by state Republican leaders.
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