AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Texas has settled a federal lawsuit over the state’s search for non-citizens among the state’s 16 million registered voters.
The agreement announced Friday ends an effort by Texas elections officials that led to the state questioning the U.S. citizenship of tens of thousands of voters.
Texas will also pay $450,000 to civil rights groups that sued after the state announced in January that it had identified nearly 100,000 people who were potentially ineligible to vote.
But it turned out the data used by the state was flawed and failed to exclude scores of naturalized U.S. citizens.
A federal judge called the state’s effort a “solution looking for a problem.”
The Texas Secretary of State’s Office put the following statement on its website Friday:
Today, the parties to LULAC v. Whitley (and consolidated cases) agreed to a settlement in the litigation regarding the Texas Secretary of State’s voter registration list maintenance activity announced on January 25, 2019 to identify and remove non-U.S. citizens registered to vote in Texas. All parties agreed to a mutually acceptable process by which the Texas Secretary of State’s office can continue to conduct voter registration list maintenance required under both state and federal law while eliminating the impact of any list maintenance on eligible Texas voters. The plaintiffs agreed to dismiss all of their claims and the Texas Secretary of State’s office agreed to issue a new advisory notifying Texas counties on the revised process for identifying and removing non-U.S. citizens from the state’s voter rolls.
Secretary Whitley issued the following statement regarding the settlement agreement:
“I want to thank the Texas Legislature, county election officials from across the state, and the parties in this litigation for working with our office to develop a sustainable non-citizen list maintenance process. From the beginning, this process was designed to be collaborative, and today’s agreement reflects a constructive collaboration among all stakeholders. It is of paramount importance that Texas voters can have confidence in the integrity, accuracy, and efficiency of the electoral system in which they participate. Today’s agreement accomplishes our office’s goal of maintaining an accurate list of qualified registered voters while eliminating the impact of any list maintenance activity on naturalized U.S. citizens. I will continue to work with all stakeholders in the election community to ensure this process is conducted in a manner that holds my office accountable and protects the voting rights of eligible Texans.”
As part of the settlement, the parties agreed to a revised list maintenance process for the Texas Secretary of State’s office to utilize in matching Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) data regarding potential non-U.S. citizens with Texas’ voter registration database. The parties agreed that, going forward, the Texas Secretary of State’s office will send to county voter registrars only the matching records of individuals who registered to vote before identifying themselves as non-U.S. citizens to DPS when applying for a driver license or personal identification card. This will ensure that naturalized U.S. citizens who lawfully registered to vote are not impacted by this voter registration list maintenance process.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)