AUSTIN, Texas — Texas' chief of elections is defending his decision to release a flawed list of potential non-citizen voters.
- David Whitley questioned at hearing Thursday
- Released list of flagged voters
- Senate will vote on Whitley's confirmation next week
Interim Secretary of State David Whitley was grilled by Senate Democrats at a hearing Thursday to consider his confirmation for his job.
It's been almost two weeks since nearly 100,000 registered voters' citizenship status was called into question.
"This happened because I'm a Latina," flagged voter Julieta Garibay said.
Garibay said she came to the State Capitol to set the record straight.
"I went through the process, it took me 26 years to become a U.S. citizen," said Garibay.
Garibay was one of the voters the Secretary of State flagged as a possible non-citizen. She was not a citizen when she got her Department of Public Safety issued ID. In 2018, she naturalized, but didn't update DPS on her status.
"Even questioning myself if I did something wrong, thinking like, ‘Oh my God, am I going to end up in jail?’ It felt very frustrating," Garibay said.
She's not required to update that information, and that's where the controversy over Whitley's voter rolls review got so flawed.
"Did you ever yourself look at the DPS data before issuing the press release?" Senator Kirk Watson, asked.
"I do not recall, I don't think I did, but I don't recall, Senator," Whitley said.
Whitley is currently facing Senate confirmation for his job. Thursday was the first time he spoke publicly since his office released the list. He defended his decision to immediately give prosecutors the ultimately flawed list of voters.
"When we received the data from DPS, we were confident that it was their best data to determine who in their database were non-citizens," Whitley said.
Civil rights groups are now suing the state over the list, and voters like Garibay say they'll continue to show up to make sure they can continue to participate at the polls.
"It's my right and my duty to vote and I will continue to do it," Garibay said.
The Senate Nominations Committee won't vote on sending Whitley's nomination to the full Senate until next week. However, his path to confirmation remains rocky.
While Republicans are in the majority, Whitley needs two-third of senators to vote for him, and that will require some Democratic support.