AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Texas’ election chief says he immediately gave prosecutors an ultimately flawed list 58,000 potential noncitizen voters “to get the data in the hands of someone who could do something with it.”
Secretary of State David Whitley spoke publicly Thursday for the first time since his office questioned the citizenship of thousands of Texas voters since 1996.
At the time Texas Secretary of State spokesman Sam Taylor said the office was “very confident” the citizenship data used was current. But the state quickly backpedaled after discovering scores of voters were wrongly flagged.
Dallas resident Julieta Garibay was one of the people flagged as being a non-citizen voter. Garibay became an American citizen in 2018 and voted that same year. “I mean it’s outrageous because we have gone through the process. We are exercising our right to vote,” she told CBS 11 News. “It’s really outrageous that without even doing the duly work of investigating who’s on the list, why are they there. Just going out there and sounding a very false alarm.”
Whitley is facing Senate confirmation for his job. He deflected questions over whether his office made mistakes and had no update on how much the list has shrunk.
Days after claiming nearing 100,000 people in Texas had been identified as non-citizens matching voter registration records, the ACLU and a dozen other groups slammed state elections officials. ACLU of Texas legal director Andre Segura said, “History has shown that voter fraud is extremely rare and efforts to identify unlawful voting en masse have proven to be highly inaccurate.”
President Donald Trump seized on the original announcement to renew his unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the national ACLU, the Texas Civil Rights Project, Demos, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law have sued the state for creating and rolling out the flawed list, launching a new voting rights battle in Texas.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)