Monday, April 29, 2019

Texas Settles Lawsuits Over Its Bungled Voter Citizenship Review

Posted By on Mon, Apr 29, 2019 at 2:38 PM

click to enlarge Texas Secretary of State David Whitley answers questions from the Senate's nominations committee. - YOUTUBE / KUT AUSTIN
  • YouTube / KUT Austin
  • Texas Secretary of State David Whitley answers questions from the Senate's nominations committee.
Texas has settled a trio of lawsuits over its botched attempt to kick illegal voters off the rolls. The review, launched in January, questioned the citizenship of some 100,000 of the state's residents based on shaky data.

Texas Secretary of State David Whitley has agreed to officially terminate the investigation as part of the deal announced late last week, according to an Associated Press report. The move settles three suits brought by voting rights groups, which argued that the state's review was unconstitutional and singled out voters of color.

The state has also agreed to pay the plaintiffs' $450,000 in costs and attorney fees, according to AP's reporting.

San Antonio Federal Judge Fred Biery, who put the brakes on the review in February, said in his order that only 80 people had at that point been identified as potentially ineligible to vote.

“This settlement brings an end to a deplorable Texas farce, in which state leaders shamelessly lied about alleged widespread fraud by Latino and other immigrants, grabbing headlines and national attention,” said Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, which represented citizens flagged in the review.

Problems with the state's investigation came to light shortly after its launch, but not before Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas AG Ken Paxton publicly announced that Whitley's numbers were evidence of widespread voter fraud. President Donald Trump also erroneously tweeted that 58,000 non-citizens had voted in Texas, which was "just the tip of the iceberg."

Whitley has yet to be confirmed by the Texas Senate over his role in the review. If he doesn't receive an approval vote by the body, his term will expire on May 27, the end of the current legislative session.

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