Federal Judge Orders Texas Counties To Temporarily Halt Voter Roll Purge | Texas Public Radio

Federal Judge Orders Texas Counties To Temporarily Halt Voter Roll Purge

Feb 27, 2019

San Antonio Federal Judge Fred Biery ordered local county election officials to stop purging voter rolls and to stop sending notices to prove citizenship based on a list released by the Secretary of State's office.

The list was recently revised up to 98,000 names. It was compiled using outdated DPS records. But, the ruling said, "the government had an 'oops' moment, realizing that 25,000 names should have not been included." In fact, only 80 so far have been found to be ineligible to vote.

While the secretary advised county election officials they were to investigate the names on the list as they best saw fit or even take no action at all, many county election officials' first step was to send letters to those on the list to ask them to prove their citizenship within 30 days.

The League of United Latin American Citizens said the list targeted Hispanics and naturalized citizens and called the whole process the intimidation and suppression of voters.

Biery ruled the state could continue with the monthly rollout of names to counties, but counties could not send letters or purge voters based on the list without court approval.

Biery also refused a state request to dismiss the case.

LULAC Attorney Luiz Vera Jr. said the civil rights organization was happy with the temporary ruling but wanted the compiling of the lists permanently stopped. He said current laws are working to prevent voter fraud.

"For the most part, the vast majority of people understand that if they start committing fraud, they get caught, there are serious consequences," he said.

State Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement the state broke no laws and there was no need for a federal court takeover of state activities. He said the state would continue to make its case that ineligible voters should not vote and keep voter rolls clean.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.