TEXAS VIEW: Texas is purging voters again, and getting it wrong again

THE POINT: State is removing hundreds in name of fraud it can’t prove.

Early this month, a federal judge ordered the Texas secretary of state to release a list of more than 11,000 voters identified as noncitizens, including 1,354 Dallas County residents.

The fact that it took a court to get the state to release this information is worrisome enough given the state’s shaky history of scrubbing voter rolls.

The problem here is the lack of transparency. We understand the need to ensure that the state’s voter roll is up to date and to have mechanisms that prevent fraud.

But after the secretary of state’s botched purge in 2019 ended with a settlement, the need for transparency is that much higher. Releasing information from voter purges was part of this agreement.

Back then, Texas authorities cross-checked voter rolls with driver’s license data from the Department of Public Safety. Close to 100,000 voters were flagged as potential noncitizens. But that conclusion did not take into account that naturalized citizens can take years to renew their driver’s license after their naturalization. So citizens who were voting legally were unfairly treated with suspicion.

The plaintiffs who pushed for the list of names argue there is enough anecdotal evidence to believe that Secretary of State John Scott is using the same strategy to purge voter rolls.

Texas authorities did send 30-day notices to people whose names were in the process of being removed from the voter rolls, but a majority of those voters never responded.

That’s not good enough. Relying on people to proactively respond to having their rights removed is as unreliable as it is inadequate.

According to public statements from the secretary of state, more than 2,000 voters among the 11,000 or so who were flagged as possible noncitizens had their registration canceled. But some who received the warning letters actually were citizens, the Associated Press reported.

That means hundreds or thousands of legal voters could go to the polls only to discover they were disenfranchised. That is unacceptable.

All of this suggests the secretary of state is using a bazooka to kill a fly in an effort to curb voter fraud, which is simply not widespread in Texas, no matter what fictions and falsehoods people hear and believe.

But don’t take our word for it. Look at the efforts of our attorney general, Ken Paxton, who has embraced the narrative that elections are being stolen.

According to the Texas Attorney General website, 155 individuals have been prosecuted for fraud offenses since 2005. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, also tracks voter fraud and they list only four criminal convictions in 2022, all of them for fraudulent use of absentee ballots.

Meanwhile, Texas authorities are not allowing lawyers to review how they are purging voter rolls. The records were originally sought over a year ago.

The state had until Monday to release the information, but was seeking a stay to get more time. This lack of transparency only sows more doubts.

If the secretary of state has nothing to hide, they should release this list immediately.

Dallas Morning News