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Texas election chief’s nomination advances amid backlash

February 28, 2019
FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2019 file photo, Secretary of State David Whitley, left, arrives for his confirmation hearing in Austin, Texas, where he addressed the backlash surrounding Texas' efforts to find noncitizen voters on voter rolls. A key Texas Democrat says he won't back Whitley, Gov. Greg Abbott's embattled choice for secretary of state, whose job is in peril over an inaccurate list of 95,000 voters flagged as possible non-U.S. citizens. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The nomination of Texas’ embattled secretary of state is advancing a day after a federal judge blamed him for wrongly questioning the U.S. citizenship of tens of thousands of voters.

A Senate committee voted 4-3 along party lines Thursday to send Secretary of State David Whitley’s nomination to the full chamber. But Democrats have signaled they have enough votes to ultimately reject Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s choice for chief Texas elections officer.

Whitley’s future has been in jeopardy since his office released a deeply flawed list of 98,000 registered voters identified as potential non-citizens. The list stoked Republican claims of potential voter fraud but failed to exclude scores of naturalized U.S. citizens.

A federal judge Wednesday ruled that Whitley “created this mess” and blocked the removal of any registered voters.

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