The Texas Secretary of State, David Whitley, announced on Friday that 95,000 non-U.S. citizens have a matching voter registration record in Texas and approximately 58,000 of them voted in one or more Texas elections.
Voting without being eligible is a crime, according to a statement by Whitley.
The investigation was done by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The matter has been sent to the office of Texas Attorney General for decisions on prosecution or enforcement.
KXAN reported that the 58,000 non-citizen voters participated in elections over the course of 22 years.
The following is an official statement from Whitley’s office:
Secretary Whitley Issues Advisory On Voter Registration List Maintenance Activity
“Integrity and efficiency of elections in Texas require accuracy of our state’s voter rolls”
AUSTIN, TX – Texas Secretary of State David Whitley today issued an advisory to county voter registrars regarding voter registration list maintenance activities, which include identifying any non-U.S. citizens registered to vote in the State of Texas. For the past year, the Texas Secretary of State’s office has worked closely with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to evaluate information regarding persons identified to not be citizens of the United States. This voter registration list maintenance activity is being conducted in accordance with federal and state law to ensure that only qualified voters – who must first and foremost be U.S. citizens – are registered to vote in TexasSE elections.
Through this evaluation, the Texas Secretary of State’s office discovered that a total of approximately 95,000 individuals identified by DPS as non-U.S. citizens have a matching voter registration record in Texas, approximately 58,000 of whom have voted in one or more Texas elections. Voting in an election in which the person knows he or she is not eligible to vote is a second-degree felony in the State of Texas. Upon receipt of this information, the Texas Secretary of State’s office immediately provided the data in its possession to the Texas Attorney General’s office, as the Secretary of State has no statutory enforcement authority to investigate or prosecute alleged illegal activity in connection with an election.
Secretary Whitley issued the following statement:
“Integrity and efficiency of elections in Texas require accuracy of our state’s voter rolls, and my office is committed to using all available tools under the law to maintain an accurate list of registered voters. Our agency has provided extensive training opportunities to county voter registrars so that they can properly perform list maintenance activities in accordance with federal and state law, which affords every registered voter the chance to submit proof of eligibility. I would like to thank the Department of Public Safety for providing us with this valuable information so that we can continue to guarantee the right to vote for all eligible Texas voters, who should not have their voices muted by those who abuse the system.”
Going forward, the Texas Secretary of State’s office will use information it obtains from DPS on a monthly basis to cross-reference with Texas’ statewide voter registration database and match potential non-U.S. citizens who have registered to vote. Once a voter registration is identified as a match, the Texas Secretary of State’s office will notify the county in which the person is registered so that the county voter registrar can take action.
The following combinations of matches between information in DPS-provided data and the statewide voter registration database are used to identify possible non-U.S. citizens registered to vote:
- Last Name, First Name, and Full Social Security Number;
- Last Name, First Name, and DPS-issued Driver License, Personal Identification Card, or Election Identification Certificate Number; or
- Last Name, First Name, Last Four Digits of Social Security Number, and Date of Birth
If a registered voter is identified as a non-U.S. citizen, he or she should receive a Notice of Examination (PDF) from the county voter registrar indicating that his or her registration status is being examined on the grounds that he or she is not a U.S. citizen. The registered voter will then be required to provide proof of citizenship in order to stay registered, which may be done by submitting to the voter registrar a copy of one of the following documents:
- A certified copy of the voter’s birth certificate
- United States passport; or
- Certificate of naturalization (Citizenship certificate)
If the person responds indicating he or she is not a U.S. citizen, or fails to respond to the Notice within 30 days, then the voter registration will be cancelled by the county voter registrar. County voter registrars have been provided with numerous training opportunities to ensure that list maintenance activities are conducted in accordance with state and federal law so as to not affect eligible voters.
Texas voters who wish to check their registration status can visit the Texas Secretary of State’s “Am I Registered?” tool online or contact the voter registrar in their county of registration.
The following written statement came from the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton:
AG Paxton: Texas Secretary of State’s Office Discovers Nearly 95,000 People Identified by DPS as Non-U.S. Citizens are Registered to Vote in Texas
AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today issued the following statement after the Secretary of State’s office discovered that about 95,000 individuals identified by the Department of Public Safety as non-U.S. citizens have a matching voter registration record in Texas, and roughly 58,000 of them have voted in one or more Texas elections:
“Every single instance of illegal voting threatens democracy in our state and deprives individual Texans of their voice. We’re honored to have partnered with the Texas Secretary of State’s office in the past on voter initiatives and we will spare no effort in assisting with these troubling cases. My Election Fraud Unit stands ready to investigate and prosecute crimes against the democratic process when needed. We have obtained a number of successful non-citizen voter fraud convictions, including prison sentences for Rosa Ortega in Tarrant County and Laura Garza in Montgomery County. And earlier this month, investigators from our office arrested Marites Curry, a non-citizen charged with illegal voting in Navarro County. Nothing is more vital to preserving our Constitution than the integrity of our voting process, and my office will do everything within its abilities to solidify trust in every election in the state of Texas. I applaud Secretary of State Whitley for his proactive work in safeguarding our elections.”
Texas law allows lawfully present noncitizens to obtain driver’s licenses by showing proof of lawful presence to DPS. However, only citizens are eligible to vote. And Texas law currently does not require verification of a voter’s statement that they are a citizen. The Texas Secretary of State provided the information to the Office of the Attorney General this week, which has concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute election crimes.
From 2005-2017, the attorney general’s office prosecuted 97 defendants for numerous voter fraud violations. In 2018, Attorney General Paxton’s Election Fraud Unit – with assistance from a criminal justice grant from the governor’s office – prosecuted 33 defendants for a total of 97 election fraud violations. Last February, the attorney general announced a significant voter fraud initiative and addressed key problems and policy areas related to election law.
UPDATED: The original statements from state officials were not specific about the time frame that was examined. This story has been updated to refelect 22 years.