Set up good for voter roll maintenance

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Last week Secretary of State David Whitley was questioned by members of the Senate Nominations Committee. Much of the hearing was spent focused on list maintenance activities initiated by the SoS in mid-January.

One critique of the effort has been focused on the SoS sending a list of registered voters identified as potentially non-citizens to the Attorney General (AG) for further examination. It’s been suggested and Whitley was asked why the list of 95,000 was sent to the AG before it had been processed by the counties.

The consistent response from the SoS has been that this is a collaborative effort and that the counties and the AG have resources for checking eligibility and acting on that information that the SoS doesn’t have.

By sending this list in two directions a set of circumstances more likely to yield results has been presented to Texans. Counties will have the prospect of the AG vetting potential non-citizen voters to incentivize accurate and timely work on the part of counties.

Unfortunately, what’s been revealed in this list maintenance effort is some counties are acting in bad faith. Following dissemination of the initial list, some counties claimed they were blindsided by the list maintenance they were tasked with undertaking.

This is false. County election administrators were trained starting January 3, 2019, on this specific list maintenance activity. Of the 254 counties in Texas, 245 took part in training during the month of January, including all of the largest counties in the state.

Further, it seems some counties are working to have their cake and eat it too. To aide efforts undermining the list, counties are telling the public that the list is being quickly worked. At the same time, they are dragging their feet before sending letters to individuals on the list.

This activity can not be allowed to persist into perpetuity. If election administrators have exhausted the tools at their disposal to clear voters on the list, letters need to be sent.

Meanwhile, media efforts to malign this routine list maintenance continue. The latest ploy appears to be conflating remarks about prosecutions related to non-citizens on voting rolls coming from the AG’s office.

Last week the AG’s office communicated to lawmakers that it wouldn’t be possible to criminally investigate a list of 95,000 and that his office “planned” to begin investigations after “some” counties had performed list maintenance.

Statements excerpted by the media to “prove” conflicting stories from the AG’s office, and infer nefarious intent miss the mark.

Is the AG’s office pursuing criminal cases against the list of 95,000? No. Is the AGs office investigating those 95,000? Possibly. Is it possible preexisting cases involve individuals on the list? Yes. Are there likely to be investigations and possible prosecutions of individuals in the list? Yes. How quickly could that happen? When the AG’s investigators have time. Does the AGs office act independently of the counties? Yes.

It’s unsurprising that members of the media are contorting to combat needed list maintenance activities. Lawmakers and activists, stay aware of these efforts.

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