Lawsuit: Why are Naturalized Texans Being Axed from Voter Rolls?
Thursday, February 10, 2022
The Texas 2022 primary is approaching and nearly 12,000 possible voters have been flagged as potential non-citizens, prompting a lawsuit by the ACLU of Texas, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and other groups.
Latinos and Asian Americans comprise the largest number of naturalized citizens in Texas, and letters from county election administrators ask them for proof of citizenship.
Ashley Harris, attorney for the ACLU of Texas, said if there's no response within a certain time frame, they are purged from the rolls and will not be allowed to vote.
"It's not right that naturalized citizens should have to jump through extra hoops," Harris contended. "It's just an extra hurdle and an extra burden on them which other folks don't have to do."
The Texas secretary of state initiated a process last August to identify alleged non-U.S. citizens on the voter rolls. Harris emphasized the lawsuit was filed because despite federal laws requiring Texas to make information about the process publicly available, the secretary has failed to do so. Texas holds its first-in-the-nation primary elections March 1.
This is not the first time voter-protection groups have fought battles in Texas. In 2019, the state was sued over an attempted voter purge of more than 90,000 people, many of whom had been recently naturalized.
Harris noted the lawsuit will prevent a purge until at least June, after next month's primary election.
"Federal law actually requires that there be a pause on removing folks from voter rolls in this fashion, this close to an election," Harris pointed out. "But we're hoping that it can be resolved for future elections."
Numerous lawsuits, including one by the U.S. Department of Justice, have been filed over the new Texas GOP-drawn congressional map, alleging it dilutes the voting power of minorities. But after five conservatives on the Supreme Court this week let stand a congressional map for Alabama critics say was racially gerrymandered, a successful challenge to the Texas map seems in doubt.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.
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