GALVESTON

Weeks after becoming embroiled in a federal lawsuit over the Texas Secretary of State’s effort to identify and remove people who are not U.S. citizens from Texas voter rolls, Galveston County Voter Registrar Cheryl Johnson revised and approved a policy to recommend some potential non-citizens to be investigated, and potentially prosecuted, for voter fraud by the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office.

The three-page document was approved by Johnson on March 12, weeks after she said her office regularly referred people to the district attorney’s office for potential cases of voter fraud. In January, the district attorney’s office said it was not aware of any such referrals.

Because of that confusion, Johnson rewrote her office’s policy to make it clear that potential non-citizens should be referred to prosecutors, she said.

“I discovered my staff was confused about what precisely they were supposed to send to the DA,” Johnson said. “I revised the policy to make it real clear.”

Since the new policy went into place, Johnson’s office has referred five names to the district attorney’s office for investigation, she said. Those people are being investigated, Galveston District Attorney Jack Roady said. As of Monday, none of those people had been charged with voter-fraud related crimes, Roady said.

Some of the people who Johnson has referred to the district attorney also appeared on a list of potential non-citizens that was distributed by Texas Secretary of State’s office in January, Johnson said.

The new policy is aimed at people who tell county officials they are not eligible for jury duty because they are not U.S. citizens. All of the people had self-reported themselves to the county, Johnson said.

The voter registrar’s office has long been notified about such people, because jury summons are connected directly to voter registrations, Johnson said. But, until recently, her office had not been sending names to the district attorney for investigation.

Under the new policy, the voter registrar refers to the district attorney people whose names have been flagged and do not respond to a letter asking them to prove their citizenship — or voluntarily remove themselves from the voter rolls — within 35 days.

When that happens, Johnson’s office cancels a person’s voter registration and sends a packet of information to the district attorney’s office.

Johnson on Monday said her office cannot definitively say whether a person has voted illegally. Her office can tell prosecutors that a person did not respond to a request of proof for citizenship and turn over that person’s voting records. But the voter registrar cannot access the sworn statement where a person said they were a non-citizen, she said.

Roady confirmed on Monday that his office had received a packet of names from Johnson’s office and was investigating the information she provided. Charging someone with voting illegally would require prosecutors to prove intent, Roady said.

“You have to be able to prove whether they intended to vote illegally or attempted to vote illegally,” Roady said. “It’s going to depend on the evidence.”

Texas’ treatment of people with questionable voter registrations have been under scrutiny since Jan. 25, when the Texas Secretary of State’s office distributed a list of thousands of registered voters to counties across the state identifying them as potential non-citizens.

In some counties, including Galveston, voting officials began to send letters to people on the list, asking them to prove their citizenship or else be removed from voter rolls. On Jan. 28 and Jan. 29, Johnson’s office sent 169 letters to Galveston County voters named on the state’s list.

Two days after sending the list out, the Secretary of State’s office notified counties that some of the names on the list were, in fact, legal voters. By the time that happened, Johnson’s office had sent 58 letters to legal voters.

Those people received a second letter, saying they did not need to respond to the request to prove themselves. Still, hundreds of other people received the 30-day warning.

In the days after the list was released, voter and civil rights groups sued the Secretary of State’s office, as well as Johnson and other county officials, saying the attempted voter purge targeted minorities and naturalized citizens.

The lawsuits are still ongoing, and a court order prevents the voter registrar’s office from removing people on the state’s list from the county’s voter rolls, Johnson said. However, some of those people also self-identified as non-citizens through their jury summons, Johnson said.

Under her new policy, Johnson said she “absolutely, unequivocally” expected Roady’s office to investigate for cases of potential voter fraud.

“He’s not doing his job if he’s not,” she said.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

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(43) comments

Rusty Schroeder

He can't even run his own office effectively, now Cheryl expects him to do his job ….. Priceless.

Emile Pope

What an absolute waste of time, energy, and resources. Maybe they’ll next investigate the possible sighting of the Loch Ness monster near the ferry landing...

Ron Shelby

I wonder if Mrs Johnson used the same “zeal” when one of her former Chief Deputies attempted to vote multiple times at separate voting locations many years back? I believe there are some old GDN stories on that one.

Carol Dean

Mrs. Johnson has been doing a responsible job as Voter Registrar as per requested by the State. We should all be grateful that the State is interested in ridding our lists of illegal voters be they unqualified, deceased or otherwise.

Thank you, Mrs. Johnson for your follow through on your job; hopefully Mr. Roady will follow suit.

Ron Shelby

No doubt. If they've legally made a claim that they are not US Citizens, then they should be immediately removed from the roles. Somewhere fraud is occurring. Either they fraudulently claimed to be a US Citizen to register to vote, or they fraudulently claimed not to be to get out of jury duty. On either end of that scenario, they should be held accountable. Both can't be the truth.

Carlos Ponce

"The new policy is aimed at people who tell county officials they are not eligible for jury duty because they are not U.S. citizens. All of the people had self-reported themselves to the county, Johnson said."
Now if they LIED to the judge to get out of jury duty they still have a legal problem.

Emile Pope

" But the voter registrar cannot access the sworn statement where a person said they were a non-citizen, she said." So exactly how is she determining that their citizenship is in question? If she has no proof that they claimed to not be citizens then why is she bothering them in the first place? Unless she has evidence that they are not citizens then she has no reason to be contacting anyone at all. And good luck when someone who is a citizen gets their voter registration cancelled and takes the city to court...

Carlos Ponce

"So exactly how is she determining that their citizenship is in question? "
Texas Election Code - ELEC § 16.033. Cancellation Following Investigation by Registrar
"The registrar may use any lawful means to investigate whether a registered voter is currently eligible for registration in the county."
When was the last time you were called to jury duty? The judge asks for anyone who has a good cause for dismissal from jury duty to appear before him or her and state the reason. Reasons are recorded by a clerk. The exact sworn statement is not needed, just the recorded reasons for dismissal.

Emile Pope

That is wrong. She does not have access to that information. She has to have evidence that the voter is not a citizen. Cold hard facts. Hunches are not acceptable.

Carlos Ponce

So now you are arguing with the Texas Election Code.[rolleyes]

Emile Pope

"However, some of those people also self-identified as non-citizens through their jury summons, Johnson said." Does she have access to that? Just asking...

Carlos Ponce

"Does she have access to that?" asks Emile. Yes, yes she does.

Emile Pope

Wrong. She does not have access to that information...

Carlos Ponce

No use arguing with a tree stump.

Emile Pope

Apparently...

Carlos Ponce

Texas Election Code - ELEC § 16.033. Cancellation Following Investigation by Registrar
"The registrar may use any lawful means to investigate whether a registered voter is currently eligible for registration in the county. If the registrar has reason to believe that a voter is no longer eligible for registration, the registrar shall deliver written notice to the voter indicating that the voter's registration status is being investigated by the registrar.  The notice shall be delivered by forwardable mail to the mailing address on the voter's registration application and to any new address of the voter known to the registrar.  If the secretary of state has adopted or recommended a form for a written notice under this section, the registrar must use that form. The notice must include: a request for information relevant to determining the voter's eligibility for registration;  and a warning that the voter's registration is subject to cancellation if the registrar does not receive an appropriate reply on or before the 30th day after the date the notice is mailed."
https://codes.findlaw.com/tx/election-code/elec-sect-16-033.html
Posted by Carlos Ponce Mar 29, 2019 7:48am

Emile Pope

"But the voter registrar cannot access the sworn statement where a person said they were a non-citizen, she said." "But the voter registrar cannot access the sworn statement where a person said they were a non-citizen, she said.""But the voter registrar cannot access the sworn statement where a person said they were a non-citizen, she said.""But the voter registrar cannot access the sworn statement where a person said they were a non-citizen, she said." So what evidence is she using to question the citizenship of a voter? An Ouija board? Magic 8-ball? Tarot cards?

Carlos Ponce

"In the 2016 primary election a voter presented himself at one of Galveston County’s early voting polling locations. The election workers looked up the person in the poll book and did not find his record (i.e., he was not a registered voter). When he was told this, the voter said he had voted previously on numerous occasions and he couldn’t understand why he wasn’t registered.
The Election Judge decided to do some investigating and discovered the voter had been called to jury duty. When called, he told the court’s judge he couldn’t serve because he wasn’t a U.S. citizen. Acting appropriately, the District Clerk’s office notified the Galveston Voter Registrar’s office that the gentleman in question was not a U.S. citizen and the Voter Registrar’s office subsequently removed him from the registration rolls.
After discovering this information, the Election Judge asked the voter whether he was a U.S. citizen, and he said he wasn’t. The problem is that this non-U.S. citizen had voted in four previous elections."
https://www.galvnews.com/opinion/columns/article_d445dcae-87af-55fb-a35d-02fe819a6f5b.html

Gary Miller

I believe lying to a court is a felony. Citizens(?) lying, to a court, about their citizenship status should at least have their voting rights suspended until they are released from prison. The court should investigate how they got on the Jury pool if they really are not a citizen. The people who put them in the jury pool need to be investigated and prosecuted. Another group needing investigation is the non citizens in the jury pool who served illegaly on juries.

Bailey Jones

I would think conservatives would object to the government telling its citizens, "we've presumed your guilt, you've got 30 days to prove your innocence." I certainly object to it. Especially considering that fully 1/3 of those being harassed were known to be innocent.

Carlos Ponce

"we've presumed your guilt..." No presumption, Bailey. They TOLD a JUDGE they were not US citizens to get out of jury duty.
If they told the truth they need to be removed from the voting rolls and if they actually voted there are legal ramifications.
If they lied to get out of jury duty there are legal ramifications.

Don Schlessinger

So you couldn't give a flip if the guy standing in front of you isn't an American citizen and object when citizens and legal voters want to have a fair vote of any kind. Ms. Johnson seems to be investigating possible fraud, but you object to that. How would you try to find fraud, ask suspects if they are lying, and if they say no that's okay with you? Proving you're a U.S. citizen is so "old school" isn't it.

Emile Pope

So everyone is being asked to prove citizenship?

Carlos Ponce

No, Emile, only those who indicated they were non-citizens.

Don Schlessinger

They should be.

Emile Pope

They have no way of knowing who did that. Even the article says that the registrar doesn't have access to that information.

Carlos Ponce

"Under the new policy, the voter registrar refers to the district attorney people whose names have been flagged and do not respond to a letter asking them to prove their citizenship — or voluntarily remove themselves from the voter rolls — within 35 days."
SOMEBODY flagged them. SOMEBODY knows
"Since the new policy went into place, Johnson’s office has referred five names to the district attorney’s office for investigation, she said."
So where did the "five names" come from, Emile? According to you, " They have no way of knowing.." Looks like SOMEBODY knows.

Emile Pope

And the courts disagree which is why all she can do is write. The first person she illegally removes from registration will get paid.

Carlos Ponce

Cheryl Johnson refers names to the Galveston County District Attorney's office, Emile. That's due process.

Bailey Jones

If you think I'm guilty of illegally voting, bring me evidence - first, prove that I'm not a citizen, then prove that I voted. I'm under no compulsion to present evidence of my innocence in the absence of evidence of a crime. (Like, if congress thinks the president is guilty of tax fraud, but he doesn't have to present his tax returns to prove he's innocent.)

Gary Miller

1/3rd innocent? 2/3rds guilty? Apoligize to the 1/3, convict the 2/3.

Bailey Jones

Gary - wow. Who said the 2/3 are guilty? Oh, that's right - we're waiting on them to prove their innocence.

Bailey Jones

Read it again, Carlos. "On Jan. 28 and Jan. 29, Johnson’s office sent 169 letters to Galveston County voters named on the state’s list. Two days after sending the list out, the Secretary of State’s office notified counties that some of the names on the list were, in fact, legal voters. By the time that happened, Johnson’s office had sent 58 letters to legal voters." This is the state's list - based on information gathered under a 2013 law granting the secretary of state’s office access to personal information maintained by the Department of Public Safety - nothing to do with voting. And the grand total of cases of fraudulent voters under investigation so far out of 208,000 registered voters in the county - 5. What's that term your president likes so much -- witch hunt?

Carlos Ponce

And they are pursuing information on those who were NOT identified as legal voters.

Don Schlessinger

Apparently you have a problem with being asked to prove you're a legal voter. Call me old fashioned but I'm happy to prove my citizenship. BTW I'm happy to know 5 people were found to be frauds, and that 207,995 people were found to be legal voters. When you were in the military serving your nation did it bother you to have to prove who you were when you entered buildings that required proof of who you were. Come to think of it, considering your attitude, you probably never served your country.

Emile Pope

Without cause of course I object.

Bailey Jones

You know what, Gary, Don and Carlos? I'n going to do something I rarely do, and retract my earlier comments. Because you're right - foreign interference in our elections, no matter how trivial, is a serious matter and should be investigated using the all the resources available to the government, and the results of that investigation should be released to the American people so we can all be sure that, as Don said, that the guy standing in front of us is not under the influence of any foreign power. Whew - glad we're all on the same page about this.

Don Schlessinger

Bailey you make me laugh. Thank you, but the difference we have is that I believe if you're a CITIZEN of the U.S. and a LEGAL voter you have the right to vote how you please, even if you're under the influence of a foreign power. I may disagree with your beliefs, but at least you're a legal voter. According to first amendment you can believe and say what you want.

Carlos Ponce

"Because you're right - foreign interference in our elections, no matter how trivial, is a serious matter and should be investigated using the all the resources available to the government, and the results of that investigation should be released..."
Bailey, it was investigated by the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the FBI BEFORE Mueller concluded his investigation. ALL FOUR concluded NI COLLUSION. They also concluded the efforts by the Russians had NO EFFECT on the election.

James Lippert

100% Support for Mrs. Johnson. Galveston County is very fortunate to have her on-board and taking care of business!

Gary Miller

As of the last election Republican officials run 85 +% of every county in the US. 15 % are big city (aka sanctuary city ) counties. Republicans will be more likely to try to clean up the Voter registration lists. We expect, rightly, that Democrats will pack their voter rolls with as many illegals as they can. Democrats will also use courts to keep as many illegals on Republican county voter rolls as they can. Elections have consequences. Eliminating Democrats would provide a good consequence.

Wade Frost

I hope they get this figured out.

Carol Dean

Emile, as usual, you have no idea what you are talking about, but go ahead, Keep Talking" sometimes you are even entertaining.

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