Texas official fights back, cites successful identification of illegal votes
While conceding big problems with their database of possibly illegal voters, Texas officials are asserting their highly polarizing inquiry has so far yielded 80 people who should not have been on the rolls.
Keith Ingram, who runs the elections office for the Texas secretary of state, testified Wednesday that 43 people on his list of suspect voters have since asked to cancel their registrations because they are not American citizens. Another 37 said they should be dropped from the registration roster but did not volunteer a reason.
At the same time, Ingram revealed his agency's original list of 95,000 suspect voters included as many 20,000 who had proved their citizenship to the Department of Public Safety, which issues driver licenses and state ID cards in Texas.
That report last month prompted Republican Secretary of State David Whitley to announce (without detailing his methodology) that as many as 58,000 votes had been cast by non-citizens statewide in the previous two decades – a declaration that prompted President Trump to declare Texas "the tip of the iceberg" of massive voter fraud nationwide.
Ingram will continue testifying Friday at the federal courthouse in San Antonio, were Judge Fred Biery is hearing a class action lawsuit seeking to stop the investigation of voter fraud, and potential purging of the rolls, in the most populous Republican red state – and one that's inexorably becoming more Democratic blue thanks to urbanization and the steady increase in the Latino population.
The next key witness is supposed to be Betsy Schonhoff, who ran the citizenship-verification effort at the secretary of state's office before resigning without giving a reason two weeks ago. But she has not reported to the courthouse as a subpoena required.
Neal is federal government affairs manager at R Street Institute, a nonpartisan and pro-free-market public policy research organization.
The term "democratic norms" has become a misnomer over the last year. America's governing institutions are undermined by elected officials who dishonor their offices and each other. Standards of behavior and "normal" processes of governance seem to be relics of a simpler time. Our democracy has survived thus far, but the wounds are many.
Free speech and free press have been the White House's two consistent whipping posts. Comments such as "I think it is embarrassing for the country to allow protestors" and constant attacks on press credibility showcase President Trump's disdain for the pillars of democracy. Traditional interactions between the administration and the press are no longer taken for granted. Demeaning, toxic criticisms have become so common that they're being ignored. As the administration revokes critics' press passes and daily briefings are canceled, normalcy in this arena is sorely missed.
Having had remarkable success at signing people up to vote in Texas last year, an Austin group of activists is expanding its pilot program into a full-blown national effort to overcome the sometimes ignored first hurdle for people in the voting process — registration.
"There are millions of voters who are registered who don't get out to vote," said Christopher Jasinski, director of partnerships for Register2Vote. "But the unmeasured part of the pie is the actual number of unregistered voters."