In a letter sent to all legislators, Secretary of State David Whitley apologized for the way his office handled an investigation into non-citizens potentially being registered to vote.
“After close consultation with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), the counties and members of the Texas Legislature, I have discovered that additional refining of the data my office provides to county voter registrars, both in substance and in timing, is necessary to ensure a more accurate and efficient [voter] list maintenance process,” Whitley wrote. “Before announcing the number of people who may not be eligible to vote, more time should have been devoted to additional communication with the counties and DPS to further eliminate anyone from our original list who is, in fact, eligible to vote.”
Whitley faced hard questions from senators during his confirmation hearing last week, and Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Lake Travis), chair of the Senate Nominations Committee, postponed a vote on his nomination scheduled for today (Thursday).
On a Friday afternoon, Whitley’s office announced that as many as 95K registered voters may be non-citizens based on matching the voter rolls to DPS data bases. Further, Whitley’s office said 58K of those individuals had voted in at least one election since 1996. Whitley issued an advisory to county voter registrars advising them of the steps the counties would need to take to investigate further. The report’s headlines spread rapidly on social media, drawing tweets from Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton, President Trump and others as evidence of significant voter fraud. Whitley’s office referred the list to Paxton’s office, but Paxton said no action had been taken on it.
As voter registrars began examining the data the following Monday, it became apparent that a number of people on the list were lawfully registered. Within days, Whitley’s office began walking back some of the numbers in calls to individual county voter registrars. Erroneously included on the list were voters who registered to vote while getting their driver license at a Dept. of Public Safety office, regardless of their citizenship status or documents provided to prove their identity. Other voters on the list have become citizens since first applying for a driver license or personal identification card.
At least three lawsuits have been filed against Whitley in his official capacity.
“I recognize this caused some confusion about our intentions, which were at all times aimed at maintaining the accuracy and integrity of the voter rolls,” Whitley wrote. “To the extent my actions missed that mark, I apologize.”
©2019 Texas Election Source LLC