Photo: Eric Gay/AP

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery ruled yesterday that Texas must halt the purging of 100,000 names from voter rolls due to questions over citizenship, according to The Guardian.

The purge was requested by the Texas secretary of state David Whitley’s office, which cited information casting doubts on the the citizenship of registered voters. The office eventually admitted the data they were using was flawed. They’ve been accused by civil rights activists of discriminating against the Latinx community.

Biery suggested in his ruling that the purge, and the communications about citizenship sent to voters, resulted in harassment of the Latinx community.

From The Guardian:

In a rebuke to the Texas secretary of state’s office, Biery said in his ruling that the process “was inherently paved with flawed results, meaning perfectly legal naturalized Americans were burdened with what the court finds to be ham-handed and threatening correspondence from the state”.

The judge added that the secretary of state’s office “did not politely ask for information” but instead used “the power of government to strike fear and anxiety and to intimidate the least powerful among us. No native born Americans were subjected to such treatment.”

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The legal challenge to the purge came from several civil rights organizations.

“This list is simply a way to target US citizens who are foreign-born as opposed to being any genuine effort to identify non-US citizens on the voter rolls,” Nina Perales, vice-president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, one of the plaintiffs, told The Guardian.

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Thomas Buser-Clancy, an attorney with the ACLU, said that the decision was “an extremely important ruling to help prevent eligible voters in Texas from getting kicked off the voter rolls.”

Voter suppression tactics centered around citizenship and purging voter rolls were widespread in the last midterm elections. Much of the attention was focused on Georgia, where Stacey Abrams narrowly lost her race for governor, which many blamed on laws that delegitimized the votes of many poor, black voters with tactics that included purging voter rolls. In Kansas, similar issues emerged with fear mongering around proving voter citizenship.

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For now, it looks like these voters in Texas will stay on the rolls. But when the hearings in this case are finished, there’s no telling what might happens.