The Texas Secretary of State has reportedly told five counties that his assessment that 95,000 voters might have been non-eligible to vote – used by President Trump as a proof of “rampant” voter fraud – is an overestimation.
The office of Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, who is a Republican, has informed officials in Harris, Travis, Fort Bend, Collin and Williamson counties that some of the people initially flagged as potential non-citizens were mistakenly put on the lists, The Texas Tribune reported.
The initial assessment was made by Whitley on Friday, when he said the officials in Texas identified 95,000 registered voters who were non-citizens when they obtained their identification documents. Out of the 95,000 individuals targeted, some 58,000 voted at least once from 1996 to 2018.
Officials in the five counties did confirm to the Texas Tribune that they had received calls from the Secretary of State’s office to remove some of the suspected aliens from the status check list. It remains unclear how many of the 95,000 will be delisted. Douglas Ray, a special assistant county attorney in Harris County, said “a substantial number” of names would be removed while Travis County officials spoke of a “significant” decrease.
The Texas Secretary of State office downplayed the development, saying its notification was essentially a nothingburger and a part of a standard procedure “of ensuring no eligible voters were impacted by any list maintenance activity.”
After the initial claim, the office was bombarded with threats of legal action and accused of waging a “witch hunt” to suppress minority voting.
The League of United Latin American Citizens, the country’s oldest Latino civil rights group, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, calling the review “a plan carefully calibrated to intimidate legitimate registered voters from continuing to participate in the election process.” The League alleged that the measure was “meant to attack Latinos,” specifically.
The flagging has also drawn the ire from the American Civil Liberties Union, which slammed Texas’ approach to ensuring the voting is legal as “deeply flawed.”
The civil rights advocates have targeted Texas officials after the initial report was cited by US President Donald Trump in one of his tweets. Trump claimed that “58,000 non-citizens voted in Texas” on Sunday adding that that was “just the tip of the iceberg” and alleging massive voter fraud.
58,000 non-citizens voted in Texas, with 95,000 non-citizens registered to vote. These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. All over the country, especially in California, voter fraud is rampant. Must be stopped. Strong voter ID! @foxandfriends
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2019
The somewhat premature remark has drawn criticism on social media and was dismissed by the Texas Tribune, which first reported the scoop, as factually incorrect.
Alleging widespread voter fraud based on various – and sometimes unverified claims – is a recurring theme for Trump. In January 2017, he ordered a “major investigation” into voter fraud during November 2016 elections.
In May that year, he set up the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to investigate such allegations. It was dissolved in January 2018 after Trump accused Democratic states of sabotaging the investigation by refusing to hand over voter data “because they know that many people are voting illegally.”
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