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Texas Finds Flaws in List of 95K Possible Non-Citizen Voters

Frank Heinz

NBCUniversal Media

Jan 29, 2019

Some of the names included in a list of 95,000 potential non-citizen voters provided by the state to county election offices last Friday may have included the names of naturalized citizens, state officials confirm.

The Dallas Morning News reported the Texas Secretary of State's office asked at least four county elections offices to not yet take any action demanding proof of citizenship from those on the list because the data may be flawed and that some people on the list may indeed be citizens.

In a call to NBC 5, the Texas Secretary of State's office said they did not say the numbers were overstated, as reported by the News, but that they called election officials to let them know there were some people on the list who had registered at a DPS office where they had to show proof of citizenship -- so that they could help narrow down their list of ineligible voters.

"As part of the process of ensuring that no eligible voters are impacted by any list maintenance activity, we are continuing to provide information to the counties to assist them in verifying eligibility of Texas voters. This is to ensure that any registered voters who provided proof of citizenship at the time they registered to vote will not be required to provide proof of citizenship as part of the counties’ examination," the Secretary of State's communications director said in a statement.

The Secretary of State's office did not reveal Tuesday how many people on the original list should not have been there.

Dallas County Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole said Tuesday that state officials told her they discovered that some voters on the list had previously provided proof of citizenship. Near Austin, Williamson County Election Administrator Chris Davis said the state also called him and that there is a "significant" number of voters whose citizenship is no longer in question.

President Donald Trump seized on the Texas numbers over the weekend to renew his unsubstantiated claims of rampant voter fraud and saying that it was an even bigger problem in California that must be stopped.

Since Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office released the numbers last Friday, county election offices have been working to verify the citizenship status of registered voters at the request of the secretary of state. Of those 95,000 alleged non-citizens registered to vote, Paxton’s office said 58,000 of them voted in state elections.

The Tarrant County Elections Office said they received a list with more than 5,800 names; Collin County elections officials said their list contained about 4,700 names. Elections officials in Dallas and Denton counties have not yet confirmed how many names were on their list. it's not clear yet how many of the names on the list were citizens.

The Secretary of State’s office said the registered voters it flagged provided Texas DPS with documentation that showed they were not a citizen when they got their driver’s licenses or ID card.

A coalition of Civil Rights groups said that the methodology is flawed, because it doesn’t account for people who have become naturalized citizens at any point after that.

Meanwhile, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) filed a lawsuit Tuesday in San Antonio against Texas Secretary of State David Whitley and AG Paxton claiming the release of the numbers is an attempt to suppress Latino voters.

"It's clear that the right-wing elements in Texas government are trying to rig the system to keep power and disenfranchise 95,000 American citizens," said Domingo Garcia, LULAC National President. “There is no voter fraud in Texas, it’s a lie, repeated time and again to suppress minority voters and we’re going to fight hard against it."

During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Garcia said those in power hoped to rig the system to maintain political power.

"Our lawsuit alleges that this was voter suppression, voter intimidation, and it was timed right after the elections of 2018 when Beto O'Rourke came within two points of beating Ted Cruz with a surge of Latino voters -- and it’s coming four months before the municipal elections in Texas," Garcia said.

LULAC has requested a list from the Secretary of State's Office of the more than 90,000 names to verify on their own.

Garcia said they want an injunction from the federal court that would stop letters from being sent out to voters asking them to prove they are U.S. citizens.

LULAC's lawsuit, filed Tuesday, can be seen below.