A federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked an effort led by Texas’ secretary of state to purge individuals suspected of not being citizens from its voter rolls.
In the ruling, filed Wednesday, Judge Fred Biery said there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud and called the attempt to comb through the rolls “ham-handed.” He also said that Texas Secretary of State David Whitley “though perhaps unintentionally, created this mess.”
“The evidence has shown in a hearing before this Court that there is no widespread voter fraud,” Biery wrote in the ruling, adding that the current challenge is how to “ferret the infinitesimal needles out of the haystack of 15 million Texas voters.”
Biery said that Whitley, through his office, “made a good faith effort to transition from a passive process of finding ineligible voters through the jury selection system in each county to a proactive process” using thousands of driver’s license records matched with voter registration records.
“Notwithstanding good intentions, the road to a solution 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 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,” Biery wrote.
The case was brought in late January by a prominent Latino civil rights group that accused Whitley and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton of voter intimidation and propagating a false narrative about voter fraud in the state.
The suit came shortly after the two officials said Whitley’s office had discovered about 95,000 potential non-US citizens registered to vote in Texas, and that roughly 58,000 of those individuals had voted in at least one Texas election. At the time, Whitley’s office pledged to investigate and refer individuals who were registered improperly to county registrars for further action.