The effort is a revised version of a previous effort to purge voter rolls in the name of voter integrity in a state where voter fraud is virtually non-existent. Last week, it was revealed that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (under indictment for fraud and under investigation for bribery and abuse of office) spent $2.2 million in taxpayer funds and 20,000 attorney hours yet found only three cases from 2020 and none in 2021.
But as Texas Monthly explains, a legal settlement that ended the last purge was incorporated into Texas’ current legislation that calls for regular voter roll auditing. Since September, election administrators across the state have mailed out 11,737 challenge letters to registered voters, almost all Hispanics and Asians, giving them 30 days to prove their U.S. citizenship or be thrown off the rolls. They can still vote if proof of citizenship is brought to the polling place on Election Day, though.
Texans who registered to vote, then later indicated to [Texas' Department of Public Safety] that they were noncitizens—in some cases mistakenly—are placed on a list of potentially ineligible voters. Those lists are then sent to county election administrators, who have been charged with verifying citizenship in these cases. If the administrators can’t verify a voter’s eligibility, they must send out the challenge letter to the address on file. If no proof of citizenship is received within thirty days, the voter is automatically culled from the voter roll.
“These were people who had registered to vote, and subsequently showed up at the Department of Public Safety and self-identified as non-U.S. citizens,” Secretary of State John Scott told Texas Monthly. Scott was appointed by Governor Greg Abbott in October and is conducting an audit of the 2020 presidential election to “restore confidence” in state elections. “If there were errors out there, we can sure try to get with the different participants and figure that out.
So, in a state where there is virtually no voter fraud, the burden is on voters of color to defend their constitutional rights instead of the state having to prove a justification to strip them. In other words, people who will likely feel intimidated or may not speak the language well are guilty until proven innocent.
And get a load of the BS excuse Sam Taylor, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State, gave Texas Monthly for questioning the citizenship of 84-year-old Mary Gomez, an American citizen who votes in nearly every election:
Cameron County officials were not certain why Mary Gomez’s eligibility had been questioned. Taylor, the spokesperson for the Secretary of State, did not dispute her citizenship. He said the error could be the result of there being two people named Mary Gomez who were born on the same date and share the same last four digits in their Social Security numbers. Gomez’s story, he said, shows the system working: “[F]lagged individuals have the opportunity to confirm their U.S. citizenship to remain on the rolls, which is exactly what happened in this case.”
Actually, what Taylor said is proof that the system is not working. He can’t come up with an explanation as to why Gomez’s citizenship was questioned, so he came up with the laughable theory that she shares a name, birthdate, and partial Social Security number with someone else. Then, it’s up the 84-year-old to jump through unnecessary hoops to prove the state’s error.
It’s yet another reminder of just how important it is for Paxton and Governor Greg Abbott, who signed Texas’ voter suppression laws, to be voted out of office in November.