A state attempt to review voter rolls to identify potential non-citizens has been called off as part of a settlement between top Texas officials and civil rights groups who sued to stop the review.
The settlement was announced by the Texas Secretary of State’s office on Friday, nearly three months after the office sent a list of 95,000 names to voting officials around state.
The names on the list were identified as potential non-citizens who were on state voter rolls in an advisory sent to election officials on Jan. 25.
In some counties, including Galveston County, officials acted on the information on the list and sent letters to local people identified on it and telling them they must prove their citizenship or else be removed from voter rolls.
However, just four days after sending the list, the state notified county officials that some of the names were of people who were, in fact, citizens.
In Galveston County, 58 legal voters were asked to prove their citizenship, officials said.
The list prompted three lawsuits by civil and voting rights groups, who claimed that the list targeted minority voters and naturalized citizens, and who described the review as an attempted voter purge.
Two of those lawsuits named Galveston County Voter Registrar Cheryl Johnson as a defendant. It was Johnson’s office that sent out the citizenship check letters after receiving the information from the secretary of state.
The lawsuits also targeted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton and acting Secretary of State David Whitley.
The announced settlement requires the secretary of state’s office to rescind the January advisory and to stop any citizenship reviews that had started because of it.
It does not stop voter citizenship reviews that were started for other reasons — such as recently begun reviews in Galveston County started based on jury summons.
Johnson is not specifically named in a draft of the settlement agreement released Friday. In an email to The Daily News, Johnson said that all counties had been “officially dismissed” from the lawsuit.
Acting Secretary of State David Whitley in a statement announcing the settlement called it a “constructive collaboration” between the parties.
“It is of paramount importance that Texas voters can have confidence in the integrity, accuracy and efficiency of the electoral system in which they participate,” Whitley said. “Today’s agreement accomplishes our office’s goal of maintaining an accurate list of qualified registered voters while eliminating the impact of any list maintenance activity on naturalized U.S. citizens.”
The settlement specifies that it is not an admission of liability, the state parties also agreed to pay $450,000 in attorneys fees to the plaintiffs, according to the document.