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Andre Segura, legal director of the ACLU of Texas Photo: www.aclutx.org

On April 26, Texas officials agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by several civil rights groups that challenged the legitimacy of a voter purge list that included nearly 100,000 people. Acting Secretary of State David Whitley admitted that at least 25,000 of the people on the list, and likely many more, are naturalized citizens with every right to vote. So voter fraud is definitely rampant in Texas, but it’s not being committed by illegal voters. Instead, the miscreants are Whitley, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Director of Elections Keith Ingram, along with local elections officials in several counties throughout the state.

The lawsuit was brought by the ACLU of Texas, the Texas Civil Rights Project, and three other civil rights groups. The settlement includes Texas paying $450,000 to the plaintiffs, rescinding the purge effort, and agreeing to a new voter database maintenance process.

“The right to vote is sacrosanct, and no eligible voter should have to worry about losing that right,” said Andre Segura, legal director of the ACLU of Texas, in a press release following the settlement. “After months of litigation, the state has finally agreed to … a complete withdrawal of the flawed and discriminatory voter purge list, bringing this failed experiment in voter suppression to an end.”

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Paxton, in particular, has a long history of belief in voter fraud that can often translate into voter suppression. Following the 2018 midterm elections, in which Democrats won a bevy of new seats, he tweeted a “Voter Fraud Alert,” announcing that the secretary of state had discovered 95,000 non-U.S. citizens had been eligible to vote in Texas and that 58,000 of them had actually cast ballots. His tweet included the line “Any illegal vote deprives Americans of their voice.”

His numbers were picked up by Trump, who immediately tweeted that “58,000 non-citizens voted in Texas, with 95,000 non-citizens registered to vote. These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. All over the country, especially in California, voter fraud is rampant. Must be stopped. Strong voter ID!”

In fact, the Texas Civil Rights Project said that in the 2018 elections, “election administration failures reported to our coalition affected, at a minimum, 277,628 voters — a number higher than the margin of victory in Texas’ closely watched Senate race” between incumbent Republican Ted Cruz and upstart Dem Beto O’Rourke.

Those failures included late poll openings, long lines at the polls, malfunctioning voting machines, and voter intimidation, among other abuses.

Rather than address those suppressed votes, or the recent settlement of the voter suppression lawsuit, Paxton is pushing to have the legislature pass Senate Bill 9, authored by State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), that would make it a state jail felony to provide misinformation on a voter application. Misinformation is currently a misdemeanor. Civil rights groups say the bill will intimidate voters afraid they might make ordinary mistakes while filling out the form. 

The recent voter purge in Texas has caught the eye of Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), head of the federal House Oversight and Reform Committee, who has started an investigation of the Texas purge. His committee is also looking into voter suppression nationwide.

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