AUSTIN, Texas — State leaders appear to be backing off initial claims that as many as 95,000 registered voters should have been flagged for citizenship review with the voter registration administrators saying Tuesday they were told by the Texas Secretary of State to remove several categories from the list, which they say could shrink the total "significantly."
- Secretary of State scales back list of flagged voters
- County Voter Registrars tasked with verifying citizenship
- Lawsuit filed against state leaders
"This morning's conversation [with the Secretary of State] involved a couple of categories of people who are valid who can be removed from that list," said Bruce Elfant, the Travis County Voter Registrar.
When asked about the impact the removal of those categories could have on his list of roughly 4,500 flagged voters, Elfant said, "I think it is going to be significant."
The retraction by state leaders comes the same day as a lawsuit was filed in federal court seeking to block what some call an attempt to kick new citizens off the voter rolls. The League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, to file a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday against the Attorney General and Secretary of State.
"This is simply a tactic of scaring Latino voters and others from the polls--to stop them from registering," LULAC Attorney Luis Vera said. "They did not even attempt to match the driver's license who had checked non-citizen to see if they were now a U.S. citizen."
State leaders used information from the state driver license database and voter rolls to determine eligibility to vote. The Texas Department of Public Safety asks all applicants for a Texas ID and Driver License to check a box indicating their citizenship status. Legal residents are able to obtain an ID, but they are ineligible to vote until becoming a naturalized citizen. Registrars like Elfant must now determine if the registered voters were naturalized prior to registering to vote.
"Some folks thought that DPS would have an updated record of their citizenship, and that's not always the case," he said.
Our emails and phone calls to both the Attorney General and Secretary of State went unanswered Tuesday. Late last week, a spokesman for the Secretary of State said they were confident the data obtained was current.
"This is just another set of data that our office is using in order to make sure that only people who are eligible are voting in Texas," Sam Taylor said.
Elfant said he is unsure if he is legally able to access the naturalization records for registered voters.
"We are about to find out," he said.