The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) sued Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Secretary of State David Whitley to block an effort to remove reported non-U.S. citizens from the voter rolls.
On Friday, Breitbart News reported Paxton announced Whitley found approximately 95,000 individuals identified as noncitizens by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) were registered to vote and roughly 58,000 of those, 61 percent, voted in elections going back to 1996. Whitley issued an advisory to county voter registrars statewide indicating that, for the past year, his office worked closely with DPS to “evaluate information regarding persons identified to not be citizens of the United States.”
In response, the Latino advocacy group accused the state of suppressing Latino voters. The 14-page complaint, filed in San Antonio federal court, alleged Texas violated Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. LULAC accused Texas of voter intimidation and voter suppression. The complaint stated, “Intimidating, threatening, or coercing any person from registering to vote equates to intimidating, threatening, or coercing such person from voting at all.”
Texas law permits noncitizens to obtain drivers licenses by showing proof of lawful presence to DPS. However, only U.S. citizens are eligible to vote. Currently, Texas law does not require verification of a voter’s statement that they are a citizen. Illegal voting is a second degree felony in Texas, punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Under federal law, applicants for naturalization can be denied and potentially deported if they registered to vote prior to becoming a citizen.
The LULAC lawsuit also alleges Texas officials violated the Voting Rights Act through “manipulative use of the advisory,” a “data black-out,” and a “coercive use” of local elections as “human shields.”
In a press release, LULAC President Domingo Garcia insisted, “There is no voter fraud in Texas, it’s a lie, repeated time and time again to suppress minority voters and we’re going to fight hard against it.” He also claimed “that the right wing elements in Texas government are trying to rig the system to keep power and disenfranchise 95,000 American citizens.”
On Wednesday, Mark Rylander, director of communications for the Office of the Texas Attorney General, told Breitbart News by email, “We look forward to defending Texas’ policy of assuring that each person on our voter rolls is actually eligible to vote.”
The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), a national election integrity law firm, also the target of a LULAC lawsuit, commented on the matter via Twitter Wednesday.
Behold, @LULAC will sue @PILFoundation @TXAG @KenPaxtonTX @TXsecofstate for violating its First Commandment: Thou shalt not think, research, speak, or perform state/fed maintenance activities involving potential noncitizen voter registrants. #RealForeignInfluenceInElections
— PublicInterestLegal (@PILFoundation) January 30, 2019
The nonprofit watchdog was recently sued by LULAC for also allegedly violating the Voting Rights Act in 2018. The activist group argues that PILF’s published studies regarding apparent noncitizen voter participation in Virginia is an act of intimidation. The legal foundation is currently fighting the charges in the U.S. Eastern District of Virginia. The group often publishes similar reports utilizing voter records from other states.
In a follow-on tweet, the Foundation charged that LULAC is trying to “chill concerns for ineligible voting everywhere.”
Presently, the LULAC lawsuit lodged against Texas sits with U.S. District Judge Fred Biery, who, in 2011, ordered a Texas school district to prohibit public prayer at a high school graduation ceremony following a complaint by the family of an agnostic student. The judge also forbid the use of phrases containing the words “prayer,” “amen,” “invocation,” and benediction.” A federal appeals court overturned the ban.
The case is Texas League of United Latin American Citizens v. Whitley et. al. (5:19-cv-00074), filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas—San Antonio. Copy of the complaint is embedded below.
LULAC TX Complaint by on Scribd