Federal judge orders Texas to stop voter purge in 'message to rest of the country'

Federal judge orders Texas to stop voter purge in 'message to rest of the country'
Election '20

The Republican plan to purge Texas’ voter rolls of more than 95,000 people simply because at one point in the past they were non-citizens is going to have to wait, a federal judge ordered on Wednesday. Because “the evidence has shown in a hearing before this court that there is no widespread voter fraud,” U.S. District Judge Fred Biery’s temporary restraining order protects voters while a lawsuit by the League of United Latin American Citizens goes forward.

Biery doesn’t sound impressed by the way the Texas secretary of state’s office went about identifying suspected non-citizen voters: “Perfectly legal naturalized Americans were burdened with what the court finds to be ham-handed and threatening correspondence from the state which did not politely ask for information but rather exemplifies the power of government to strike fear and anxiety and to intimidate the least powerful among us.”

Thousands of Texas voters got intimidating letters from voting officials, including threats of felony charges. But the list of nearly 100,000 people identified as non-citizens who had registered to vote was compiled by looking at everyone who had ever told the state they weren’t citizens … and Texas naturalizes around 50,000 people a year, so there are a lot of people in Texas who weren’t citizens but are now, with the legal right to vote that that entails. One local elections administrator didn’t have to do any detailed research to figure out that something was wrong—because the list of non-citizen voters she received included one of her own employees, whose naturalization she had celebrated.

Under Biery’s order, county voting officials can investigate whether any of the people on the list are in fact registered to vote illegally, but the threats have to stop while the lawsuit progresses.

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