Texas Attorney General not ready to investigate alleged voter fraud list
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton now says he is not prepared to investigate the 58,000 potential non-citizen voters that the Secretary of State has flagged.
In a letter to a key state senator, Paxton said he does not have enough staff to divert from other tasks to investigate each of those voters. The Texas Secretary of State sent his office the list two weeks ago, when it notified counties of a total of 95,000 suspected non-citizens registered to vote, 58,000 of whom have cast a ballot in a past election. It is a felony for a non-citizen to vote in Texas.
Instead, Paxton said he will wait to see what county voter registrars discover as they analyze the data. Already, county elections officials have discovered that more than 20,000 voters on the state’s purge list that are in fact citizens and eligible to vote.
“Simply put, even utilizing every resource we have, it would not be possible to investigate tens of thousands of SOS matters before the voter registrars should be able to complete their list maintenance activity,” Paxton said in a letter to State Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway.
Buckingham is the chair of the Senate Nominations Committee, which is weighing whether to confirm the appointment of Texas Secretary of State David Whitley. Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Whitley in December, but he must be confirmed by the Texas Senate to retain the job.
Whitley’s confirmation process began Thursday when Senators peppered him with questions about the list of potential non-citizen voters his office identified. On Jan. 25, Whitley put out a press release saying the 95,000 voters identified by his office had previously supplied information to the Department of Public Safety that indicated they were not citizens. At that time, Paxton announced he “stood ready” to open a criminal investigation.
While non-citizens can still get a driver license, they are ineligible to vote. Whitley’s office at the time said there were 58,000 people on the list who had previously voted and his staff was forwarding those names to the Texas Attorney General.
On Thursday, Senators asked Whitley to call on Paxton to hold off on investigating people until the lists have been better vetted by county officials to assure legal citizens aren’t being drawn into an investigation unnecessarily.
In his letter to Buckingham, Paxton said the secretary of state’s office has asked him to refrain from starting those investigations.
The effort to pinpoint voters who are not U.S. citizens has brought praise from Republicans as high up as President Donald Trump, who have called it part of the fight against voter fraud. But it also has resulted in lawsuits from civil rights groups who say the analysis Whitley’s office conducted is riddled with errors, and discriminates against immigrants. They say the purge is calculated to dissuade them from voting.