LULAC will move forward with its lawsuit against the state over a report on alleged non-citizens registered to vote in Texas, as the Secretary of State’s office now says it may have overestimated the numbers.
The report released on Friday stated that as many as 95,000 non-U.S. citizens were on voter registration rolls, and about 58,000 of them had voted in at least one election in Texas since 1996. Several days since its release, the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization filed the lawsuit over the report, claiming voter intimidation and citing a section of the Voting Rights Act in the legal action.
“No governmental entity — be it state, federal or anyone — can coerce, threaten or intimidate voters from registering to vote and/or actually voting,” LULAC national general counsel Luis Vera told KRIS 6 News.
He claims the intimidation comes by targeting mostly minority voters who may have previously been non-citizens when applying to DPS for a driver’s license, but had since become citizens.
“We know that Texas averages approximately 54,000 new citizens a year,” Vera explained. “When you get sworn in as a naturalized citizen at the ceremony as you’re leaving, they give you the registration card to vote.”
Kevin Kieschnick, who administers voter registration in Nueces County, suspects that’s why the secretary of state has told county officials to hold off on demanding proof of citizenship from people on the state list.
“What I think the SOS kind of indicated to us is that there’s been a disconnect between DPS and them updating their drivers licenses that they’re now citizens,” Kieschnick said.
He believes that’s the core issue that needs to be fixed. Kieschnick says there are gaps in the vetting process for citizenship during voter registration that state lawmakers need to tackle.
“This is something that the legislature really needs to take up and address as an issue,” he said.
For now, Vera says LULAC supports the state’s second look at the controversial report.
“If they find illegal voters, fine,” Vera said. “We’re not supporting illegal voting. We’re not supporting illegal registration.”