County officials: Texas non-citizen voter list is ‘too big,’ wrong

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — County election administrators for Williamson and Travis Counties say the list of non-citizen voters issued by the Texas Secretary of State last week is too big and inaccurate.

On Friday, an evaluation by the Texas Secretary of State’s office discovered about 95,000 people identified by the Texas Department of Public Safety as non-U.S. citizens have a matching voting registration record. The state claims 58,000 of those people voted in one or more state elections over 22 years. It created the list as part of voter registration list maintenance.

Tuesday, details emerged showing many on that list should not have been placed for citizenship checks.

“Anybody that would suggest massive voter fraud before we know what’s going on are premature and irresponsible,” said Travis County Elections Administrator Bruce Elfant.

Elfant tells KXAN he was given a list of 4,500 people in Travis County flagged for citizenship checks. He says the list is off by hundreds — if not by more than a thousand — names.

A spokesman from the Secretary of State tells KXAN that the DPS list includes people who registered to vote while getting their drivers license at a DPS office who showed proof of citizenship. They’re categorized by the state of Texas as ‘code 64’.

Williamson County election administrator Christopher Davis tells KXAN they found multiple “code 64” people on the DPS list that have indicators of being a naturalized citizen. 

“As voter registrar I’m charged with keeping an accurate, clean, voter registration list, right,” said Davis.

“As part of the process of ensuring that no eligible voters are impacted by any list maintenance activity, we are continuing to provide information to the counties to assist them in verifying eligibility of Texas voters,” the Texas Secretary of State’s office wrote in a statement. “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.”

KXAN reached out to the Texas Department of Public Safety to ask why those “code 64” people were on the list if they may be citizens and have not yet heard back. 

Travis County updates its numbers

In a release from Elfant’s office Wednesday, Travis County identified and removed 634 records that indicated that the most recent application came from the DPS.

The remaining 3,913 records will be reviewed by Elfant’s office in an attempt to identify citizens and remove them from the list provided by the Secretary of State. This includes trying to determine if the voter became a citizen after applying for a driver’s license but before registering to vote.

The tax office does not know how long it will take to complete the process and the assessment will depend on available information. 

Examples of actions to be taken during the manual review to remove citizens from the list will include:

  • Determining if there is a valid voter registration record coded from DPS that was superseded by another action, such as an address change.
  • Determining if the voter was registered by a Volunteer Deputy Registrar at a naturalization ceremony in Travis County
  • Determining if the Travis County voter was registered at a naturalization ceremony in Bexar County; Bexar County indicated this on the application forwarded to the tax office.
  • Determining if there are data entry errors where applicants checked the non-citizen box and were entered into the voter registration system. The Texas Secretary of State verified the voter, resulting in an erroneous registration.

Response to the list

Republican state officials last week pointed to the list as evidence of large scale voter fraud. Attorney General Ken Paxton announced an investigation. KXAN requested an update Tuesday on that but has not heard back.

The Latino civil rights group League of United Latin American Citizens filed a lawsuit against the state over the 95,000 person list. The group claims the report violates a part of the federal Voting Rights Act, which prohibits the intimidation of voters. 

Monday, KXAN media partners at the Texas Tribune contacted 15 counties with the most registered voters. Only Galveston County indicated they would immediatley send out letters asking voters for proof of citizenship.

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