A federal judge has ordered Texas election officials to halt a planned purge of electoral rolls, calling their effort “ham-handed” and “threatening” and saying there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the state.
The Wednesday ruling, a relief for voting rights activists, puts a temporary stop to the Secretary of State’s search for noncitizens who may have voted illegally — a probe that proved deeply flawed just days after it began.
In late January, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley made the startling announcement that nearly 60,000 noncitizens over two decades may have voted in state elections. In response to this finding, Whitley said, counties must conduct “list maintenance activity,” a bureaucratic euphemism for canceling the registrations of fraud suspects.
Whitley’s statement galvanized lawmakers — nearly all Republicans — who claim that tens of thousands of noncitizens are committing large scale voter fraud. Even President Trump weighed in.
But there was a catch: As U.S. District Judge Fred Biery said this week, the secretary of state’s numbers were wrong.
“It appears this is a solution looking for a problem,” Biery wrote in his ruling, saying the policy “exemplifies the power of government to strike fear and anxiety and to intimidate the least powerful among us.”
Within days of Whitley’s claim, it became clear that thousands on his list were U.S. citizens, eligible to vote. Whitley, saying he still supported a citizenship review, nonetheless apologized for the bungled way his office rolled it out.
This and other news below, please add yours!