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.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

(11) comments

Carlos Ponce

Here's the settlement agreement:
The purge of non-citizens voting rolls will continue under new agreed to guidelines. The old list is tossed out and a new list is going in. I believe many of the names will be the same. Since the lawyers got their money and agreed to the new guidelines there should be little future litigation. But given the nature of lawyers......[rolleyes]
Why the agreement and settlement? The answer is as clear as 2020.
Remember the article states, "it is not an admission of liability".

Richard Moore

These "Hacks" clearly got their hands slapped and perhaps will become more circumspect. They are getting very close to having Texas once again become subject to "pre-clearance" under the Voting Rights Act (this change may be the only way to protect Citizens from constant harassment).

Carlos Ponce

"protect Citizens from constant harassment"?????
The letters were sent ONLY to those who indicated they were NOT CITIZENS on official documents. If someone naturalized received a letter it was easy for them to verify their citizenship status. Harassment? Not really.

David Hardee

Another $450,000.00 of public funds devoured by lawyers for a specious lawsuit.
a voter whether they are or not a citizen being asked to provide proof is not a violation of any right . Only the skewing of the intent by a lawyer's hyperbole and a (brother lawyer) judge's condescending can this public service action to secure the veracity of the voter rolls be allowed to entered into litigation or settlement. These are the to frequent type acts from our Doctors of Jurisprudence that have sullied their once august reputation. Draining the swamp is happening at the federal level and needs to also happen locally.

Bailey Jones

It's a shame the state settled, I would have liked to see the court determine the constitutionality of their purge. But the $450K settlement speaks well to the state's belief about the outcome of the case.

Jim Forsythe

The settlement was not just to pay the Lawyers fee's. Some of the changes are below.
1. Voters whose registration is canceled after being sent a notice of examination but who later prove their U.S. citizenship at the polling place or to their county voter registrar must be reinstated (as opposed to re-registered) immediately
2. Under the new procedure, the Secretary will identify only currently registered voters who registered to vote before they presented documents to DPS indicating non-U.S. citizenship (e.g., a green card). The Secretary will send only those names to the counties for further investigation of citizenship.
3. The Texas Secretary of State will provide all counties a new election advisory and written training material. Among other things, the new advisory and training material will advise all counties to treat the new data as weak matches and that they may not immediately cancel any voter’s registration.
4. The Texas Secretary of State will promulgate a new notice of examination letter on its website for counties to use. The updated notice will be available in all languages required under state and federal law and will address concerns raised by the court regarding the existing notice, including: (1) informing voters of the different ways in which they can present proof of U.S. citizenship, including e-mail to the county registrar; (2) providing a new and expanded list of documents voters can use to prove U.S. citizenship; and (3) informing voters they have a right to request a hearing to challenge their cancellation, including when the voters lack documentation of U.S. citizenship.

Carlos Ponce

There's not much difference between what was done in January and what is being done now. Only now they have the lawyers who sued "Imprimatur".

Jim Forsythe

Under the new procedure, the Secretary will identify only currently registered voters who registered to vote before they presented documents to DPS indicating non-U.S. citizenship (e.g., a green card). The Secretary will send only those names to the counties for further investigation of citizenship.

Carlos Ponce

"Under the new procedure, the Secretary will identify only currently registered voters who registered to vote before they presented documents to DPS indicating non-U.S. citizenship (e.g., a green card)."
Under the "old" system, [January 25, 2019] "To that end, our office and DPS spent time evaluating the data and refining the query to limit the information being provided to us for use in this list maintenance exercise to individuals who provided valid documents indicating the person is not a citizen of the United States at the time the person obtained a Driver License or Personal Identification Card."
"As part of the processing for issuing a card, these documents would have been validated by DPS against the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Database....."
That is also in the settlement.
Essentially the same as before.

Jim Forsythe

No, the Judge now requires the State to do the work and not the counties. No more blanket list of 95,000 sent out from the state for political reasons.
The State can not just accuse someone, but must have a reason they are investigated, not just that they where on a outdated list.
The DPS list is not up to date, as it does not reflect people that have become new citizens of the USA.
If someone is removed and later found they should not have been removed from list, they must be immediately be placed back on the list. They cannot be required to reregister to VOTE.
The bulk of the cost will be on the State and not at the local level.


Gary Miller

Jail time for illegal voting? Advertise before and during election if person registered might not be a legal voter they could be charged with a felony if they vote. Voting wrong prcinct is illegal. When I served as an election judge voters who had moved without changing address were the most problems. Voting in old precinct and new precinct should be jail time. They knew it wasn't legal.

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