AUSTIN, Texas — The ACLU of Texas and a coalition of civil rights and community organizing groups today sent a letter to the Texas Secretary of State, David Whitley, demanding that he rescind his Advisory purporting to identify non-citizen registered voters. The Advisory, released last Friday afternoon, claimed that 95,000 individuals identified by the Department of Public Safety as non-U.S. citizens have a matching voter registration record in Texas.
Secretary Whitley based his Advisory on a purported 10-month investigation of which few details have been disclosed. Since its announcement, public officials, including Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and President Donald Trump, have used it to claim that 58,000 non-citizens cast ballots over a 22 year time span.
“Given the long history of anti-immigrant policies and attempts at voter suppression by our Texas officials, we cannot trust that this investigation has been conducted in a fair and non-discriminatory manner,” said Andre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas. “History has shown that voter fraud is extremely rare and efforts to identify unlawful voting en masse have proven to be highly inaccurate. Despite President Trump’s histrionic and highly inaccurate statement about voter fraud, each county in Texas must now act responsibly so that marginalized communities can exercise their right to vote without intimidation.”
In addition to demanding the Secretary of State rescind the Advisory, the groups have also asked officials in charge of elections in all of Texas’ 254 counties to take no action on the matter until the Secretary of State has provided greater transparency on its procedures and ensured there are adequate safeguards for not identifying lawfully registered naturalized citizens.
“With this new Advisory, Texas officials have taken another page straight out of the voter suppression handbook. The ‘investigation’ outlined by the Secretary of State is woefully inadequate and risks purging thousands of eligible Texans from the voting rolls. ” said Beth Stevens, Voting Rights Legal Director with the Texas Civil Rights Project. “The Advisory is another attempt from state officials to drum up support for a radical anti-voter agenda in the current Legislative session and in other states with like-minded officials. With such irresponsible assertions now in the public, we call on the Secretary of State to immediately rescind this Advisory.”
The Advisory comes on the heels of the start of a new state legislative session, in which several bills have already been introduced that would further restrict the right to vote. Over the course of Attorney General Ken Paxton’s tenure, prosecutors at both the state and local level have engaged in a selective prosecution campaigns in an attempt to justify widespread claims of improper voting.