A federal judge ruled that there was no widespread voter fraud in Texas as he blocked officials’ attempt to purge voter rolls of tens of thousands of people unless they could prove they were citizens.
Earlier this year, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley announced that the state identified 95,000 people illegally registered to vote. The report claimed that the allegedly illegal voters had shown they were not citizens when they obtained government documents between 1996 and 2018, without considering that many of them became naturalized citizens during that time. Whitley later apologized for the rollout because many names were incorrectly included on the list but vowed to plow ahead with the purge anyway.
On Wednesday, US District Judge Fred Biery ordered Texas to stop removing anyone from the rolls and declared there was no widespread voter fraud in the state, NBC News reported.
“As Robert Fulghum taught in ‘All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,’ always put things back where we found them and clean up our own messes,” the judge said, ordering Whitley to advise all counties not to remove anyone without the court's approval.
The judge called Whitley’s botched attempt to identify illegal voters because the methodology was “inherently paved with flawed results.”
‘Perfectly legal, naturalized citizens’ targeted in purge:
Biery said that Whitley and his office burdened “perfectly legal, naturalized Americans” with “ham-handed and threatening correspondence, which did not politely ask for information, but rather exemplifies the power of government to strike fear and anxiety and to intimidate the least powerful among us.”
At least one-quarter of the flagged names have been confirmed to be naturalized citizens who should have never been included, The Texas Tribune reported.
“This action by the secretary of state was irresponsible,” Thomas Saenz, the president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which took part in the lawsuit told NBC News. “It was undertaken as a result of the high levels of Latino participation in the 2018 election.”
Botched voter purge may derail Whitley’s confirmation:
Whitley has been on the job on an interim basis since September but his confirmation is now in doubt after every Democrat in the state Senate vowed to vote against him.
Republicans control the state Senate but Whitley needs a two-thirds majority vote to be approved, which The Texas Tribune reported “he doesn’t appear to currently have.”