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Voting Rights: Texas Officials Face Growing Scrutiny Over List Of Alleged Voter Fraudsters

Voting rights primer
February 11, 2019 1:03 p.m.

As the lawsuits against Texas mount for its sloppy handling of a list of 58,000 alleged noncitizen voters, the elections official responsible for putting together the error-ridden list faced a rough confirmation hearing Thursday. David Whitley, who was selected to be Texas Secretary of State, will likely need Democratic votes to be confirmed in the state, which requires a two thirds majority in the state senate. Whitley struggled to answer questions about the accuracy of the list and and the methodology he used to assemble it. He admitted that he didn’t personally review the data underlying the list before releasing it, but refused to acknowledge that it was a mistake to send the list out.

The list came as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who was quick to tout the sketchy numbers, pushed for more funding to go after alleged voter fraud. So far, he has not launched any investigations based on the list. Meanwhile, a Democratic lawmaker filed legislation that would prevent the secretary of state from accessing the flawed data that was used to create the list.

North Carolina election officials will hand over the records of nearly 800 voters to a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in the state. Robert Higdon, the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of North Carolina, initially subpoenaed millions of records — a subpoena election officials resisted given its unfeasibility. Higdon’s more narrowed request comes as he’s received scrutiny for not pursuing earlier ballot fraud allegations that had been passed on to the Justice Department in 2017 related to the Leslie McCrae Dowless, the same individual who is currently the focus of the North Carolina 6th congressional district election fraud investigation.

An Ohio gerrymandering case set to go to trial in March will go on as planned after a federal court denied a request to delay it. The case is a partisan gerrymandering challenge. The Supreme Court will hear two separate partisan gerrymandering cases later this year.

Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who lost a gubernatorial race last year, is watching as his legacy of extreme voting restrictions is chipped away. His successor, Scott Schwab, gave state lawmakers his blessing to reverse a move that Kobach had pushed for giving the secretary of state prosecutorial power for voter fraud allegations. The fate of Kansas’ participation in Crosscheck, a sloppy data matching program Kobach championed to find alleged fraud, remains unclear, but other states have dropped out of the system due to its lack of accuracy.

Democrats in the U.S. House are moving forward with their package of election overhaul legislation, known as H.R. 1, even though the GOP-led Senate is vehemently opposed to it. They have another hearing on the bill scheduled for Thursday in front of the Committee on House Administration. House Democrats are also holding a hearing on election security Wednesday in front of the Homeland Security Committee. The hearing will include DHS’ top cybersecurity official, U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chairman Thomas Hicks, and state and local elections officials.

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