Texas, my Texas, always finds a way to fuck something up: On Friday, the Texas secretary of state’s office informed county officials that it wanted to check the citizenship statuses for 95,000 registered voters it had flagged. The office said these voters provided the Texas Department of Public Safety with documentation, like a work visa or green card, that showed they weren’t citizens when they applied for a driver’s license or voter ID.
However, days after that news prompted President Donald Trump to tweet an outraged message about “rampant” voter fraud in the state, the secretary of state’s office began quietly telling its county officials on Tuesday that a significant number of those 95,000 names were flagged in error, the Texas Tribune reported. Whoops!!
According to their report, the secretary of state’s office has been calling officials from Harris, Travis, Fort Bend, Collin, and Williamson Counties—five of the 12 most populous counties in the state—and telling them to remove incorrectly-flagged citizens from the list. The office did not respond to the Tribune’s request for comment.
It’s still unclear how many counties have been directed to remove citizens from the list, or just how many citizens were wrongly flagged. But holy shit does it sound like a big fuck up. In the state’s most populous country, Douglas Ray, a special assistant Harris County attorney, said nearly 30,000 voters were initially flagged. Now a “substantial number” of names are being removed as they’re marked as citizens, he told the Tribune.
Meanwhile, Chris Davis, Williamson County’s elections administrator, and Bruce Elfant, Travis County’s tax assessor-collector and voter registrar, told the site the updated citizenship statuses will likely cause a “significant” drop in the list of 95,000 names the secretary of state’s office first flagged. The list had already led to at least one civil rights group suing the state, with lawyers for the League of United Latin American Citizens arguing it’s part of an “election-related ‘witch hunt’” to intimidate voters.
How a “substantial” or “significant” number of citizens could have been added to a list of nearly 100,000 people with questionable citizenship is beyond me, but sheer incompetence sounds about right. From the Tribune (emphasis mine):
John Oldham, elections administrator in Fort Bend, said he also received a call from the secretary of state’s office indicating that some of the names on the initial list of 8,035 individuals it received from the state should not be there.
His office hadn’t determined how many voters would be removed from the list of flagged voters, but he noted they had found two non-citizens on the rolls. In both of those cases, the individuals had actually indicated they were not citizens on their voter registration applications but were mistakenly added to the voter rolls, Oldham said.
“That happens,” Oldham said.
According to another report from the site, it’s possible that flagged voters could have become naturalized citizens after getting their driver’s licenses or ID cards. Over the weekend, Sam Taylor, a spokesman for Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, told the Dallas Morning News that “we laid out the process and our methodology very clearly...This is all being done in accordance with both state and federal law.”
That seems to be exactly the problem.