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Texas Matters: The secret voter purge, the primary problem and the most violent jail in Texas

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The Texas State Capitol Building
Reginald Mathalone/Reginald Mathalone
The Texas State Capitol building in Austin, Texas on Friday, September 3rd, 2021. (Photo by Reginald Mathalone/NurPhoto)NO USE FRANCE

A group of civil rights organizations are suing the Texas secretary of state’s office for refusing to turn over documents related to a "voter purge" program. The program has identified 11,197 registered voters as potential noncitizens. The cleaning of the voting database has canceled the voter registrations of nearly 1,200 Dallas County residents.

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Texas and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund are the lead plaintiffs in the suit against Secretary of State John B. Scott.

The suit alleges that Scott violated the National Voter Registration Act by not providing information about the latest effort to purge noncitizens from voting rolls.

Nina Perales is the Vice President of Litigation for MALDEF the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

The Primary Problem

Early voting for the Texas political primaries starts on Feb. 14. You probably have seen the proliferation of political adds online and on the local TV news also a plethora of political mailers in your junk mail stack.

The election day is March 1, and focusing on just the statewide offices that are on the ballot: governor, lt. governor, attorney general on down.
But just looking at these statewide offices and examining the outcomes of the GOP primaries for the last 25 years, you wouldn’t be wrong to conclude that the Republican primary will decide who will win the general election and hold those offices for the next four years.

Texas has not elected any Democratic candidates to statewide office since 1994, when Bob Bullock, Dan Morales, John Sharp and Garry Mauro were re-elected as lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, and land commissioner, respectively.

And when you look at the turnout for the Republican primary you can see that it’s small number of votes cast compared to the size of the population of Texas. Less than 5% of Texans vote in the Republican primary and they effectively decide who will lead Texas and what laws are passed.

To find out more about this we spoke with Cal Jillson Professor in the Department of Political Science at Southern Methodist University.

Cal Jillson is Professor in the Department of Political Science at Southern Methodist University. His recent books include Lone Star Tarnished: A Critical Look at Texas Politics and Public Policy

The Most Violent Jail In Texas

Harris County Jail facilities are the most violent in Texas, according to a TPR analysis of public records from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. At one point last year an inmate had a one in 10 chance of being assaulted. TPR’s Paul Flahive reports.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi