An election integrity law firm put 12 Texas counties on notice “for holding more registered voters than adult residents” during the 2016 Election. If the jurisdictions do not respond to requests for more information and demonstrate that corrective measures in place, they could risk federal lawsuits from the organization.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) sent notification letters over the past week to 12 counties scattered across Texas. Those counties are: Loving, Brooks, Irion, McMullen, Kenedy, Jim Hogg, Culberson, Edwards, Roberts, Polk, Kent, and Cottle. The PILF stated the counties’ voter registration rolls show more registered voters than residents of legal voting age (18) during the November 2016 Election.
“In short, your county has significantly more voters on the registration rolls than it has eligible” voters, the letters sent to the counties state. The PILF adds that because of these figures, each county receiving the letter is “in apparent violation of Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act”.
This is not a problem that Texas faces alone. The PILF claims 248 counties in 24 states had similar “bloated” voter rolls late last year. While the study showed that Texas’ inflated voter rolls were found in mostly rural counties, the issue in other states showed up in more urban areas like San Diego and New York City. The report showed large swaths of counties in Kentucky and Michigan as well.
The PILF warns that flaws in voter files can be a precursor to individualized fraud or worse.
“Voter fraud begins with corrupted voter rolls,” said J. Christian Adams, PILF President and member of President Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. “Our nation’s voter rolls have records that cannot be distinguished between living or dead; citizen or alien; resident or relocated.”
The group contends that unkempt voter rolls are a particularly sensitive matter in light of reports that Russian cyber actors allegedly attempted to access voter registration systems.
“We hear about possible cyber-attacks, but we aren’t doing enough to fix voter rolls that are certainly corrupt. The voter rolls are so bad in some states that election officials would have a hard time telling the difference between sabotage and negligence,” Adams explained.
The letters sent to the dozen Texas counties make reference to how their rates of voter registration were determined. The PILF stated they utilize voter totals provided by U.S. Election Assistance Commission surveys and Census data to arrive at their conclusions.
The notices seek a long list of documents to apparently get a better sense of how well rolls are maintained locally. The PILF asks that the recipients provide: updated registration totals; numbers of voters removed; staffers charged with cleanup duties; and figures related to noncitizen and felon voters found, among others. The organization said it reserves the right to file a federal lawsuit against a county if they do not turn over or offer a personal inspection of records within a specified time period.
By Wednesday, at least two counties initiated conversations or began turning over requested documents, PILF told Breitbart Texas. The letter notes that a lawsuit “may be filed within 90 days after [the county fails] to permit inspection or provide the documents.”
The legal foundation is currently engaged in a separate but similar lawsuit against Starr County, located near the Texas border with Mexico. Representing the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) in the case, PILF attorneys claimed the county failed to maintain voter records according to federal law when it reportedly found a 107 percent voter registration rate during the 2014 Election. The legal complaint noted that “Starr County has had longstanding problems maintaining plausible numbers of registrants on the rolls.”
Breitbart Texas reported in March 2014 that Zavala County was also sued for “failing to make a reasonable effort to conduct voter list maintenance programs.” A similar complaint was filed in February 2014 against Terrell County – another Texas border county, The Fort Stockton Pioneer reported at the time. A month later, a consent decree was issued for Terrell County. The ACRU claimed victory in January 2016 when it inked a settlement agreement with Zavala County to reportedly “abide by federal law and clean the voter registration rolls of deceased persons, former residents and otherwise ineligible voters.”
The Public Interest Legal Foundation continues to represent the ACRU against Starr County in the case, ACRU v. Starr County, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas’ McAllen Division.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX, GAB, and Facebook.