AUSTIN, Texas — On Feb. 11, 300 Smith County voters were placed on a list as possible non-citizens registered to vote. Statewide, the list included 95,000 names.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Secretary of State's Office saying the list unfairly targets naturalized-citizens.
On Wednesday, the interest group hosted a live video to answer questions about the lawsuit and the lists put out by the Secretary of State's Office.
"The Secretary of State, on Friday January the 25th, trumpeted the idea that 95 percent supposed non-citizens were registered to vote. Of those 58,000 may have cast a ballot," ACLU voting rights expert Tommy Buser-Clancy said. "Within days, the Secretary of State was quietly retracting those numbers."
Buser-Clancy alleges in the video that tens of thousands of names were removed from the list.
"This list was created in a very sloppy manner and distributed in a very sloppy manner," Buser-Clancy said. "The biggest problem is the Secretary of State's list isn't a list of potential non-citizens who are registered to vote. It's a list of naturalized citizens who are eligible to vote."
Buser-Clancy says what the Secretary of State's Office did to compile the list was look at voter registration roles, seeing how people identified themselves as citizen. Then the office crosschecked the rolls with DPS data where residents identified themselves as non-citizens at some point in time.
"So this 95,000 number is just a sham," Busher-Clancy said. "The vast majority of people on the list are people who are naturalized citizens, who are able and registered to vote and who exercised their constitutional right to vote."
Busher-Clancy says the strategy is not unique to Texas, as other states have done similar lists. However, he believes they are ineffective and discourage some from registering or going to the polls.
"Point blank, all studies indicate that in-person voter fraud is extremely rare," Busher-Clancy said. "The whole notion that there is widespread voter fraud by non-citizens is a false notion. It is used to build support for voter suppression."
In regard to the lawsuit, Busher-Clancy says if the Secretary of State's office takes any action, they will violate the constitutional rights of naturalized citizens by asking them to "reprove" their citizenship.
"Taking action based on this list is going to be illegal because it is going to subject naturalized citizens to burdens that US-born citizens aren't subjected to," Busher-Clancy explained. "When the Secretary of State's Office refused to rescind the list and certain counties began taking action, that's when we sued."
You can watch the video in its entirety by following this link.