By the time local elections officials downloaded a list of 366 registered voters the Texas Secretary of State’s Office initially said may not be citizens, the office had called to tell them to disregard the list, Elections Administrator Kathy Van Wolfe said.
The state told her office by phone Monday that the citizenship of everyone on the list is not in question, Van Wolfe said. The office was informed Friday it would get the list and need to contact each voter for proof of citizenship, she said. The list came Monday, and the secretary of state had backed off on its initial request by the time anyone downloaded the list, she said.
Almost 140,000 McLennan County residents were registered to vote during the November 2018 election.
“They sent out a list and called us and said it was a mistake,” Van Wolfe said. “All those people have proven citizenship.”
A similar scenario played out statewide.
Election officials in Texas’ largest county say they have already cleared about 18,000 voters in the Houston area who the state had wrongly flagged as potential noncitizens.
Harris County special assistant attorney Douglas Ray said Wednesday he expects to find more mistakes as the state backpedals on claims that tens of thousands of illegal ballots had potentially been cast since 1996.
Texas Secretary of State David Whitley said last week that about 95,000 voters matched records of noncitizens who had obtained state IDs. Republicans seized on the announcement to renew claims of widespread voter fraud.
But the numbers started unraveling Tuesday. That was when local officials say Whitley’s office revealed to them the list was flawed.
Verifying voter information is a daily process as the state and various agencies share information with the local office, Van Wolfe said.
“Voter registration is an ongoing process,” she said. “It never stops. It’s year-round.”
Residents register to vote through the mail, through a deputy registrar, while getting a driver’s license, at the welfare office, or through various other measures. Requests for changes of address or name changes after marriage or divorce are also constant, she said. That information is often sent to the state first, where it is recorded and verified before it makes it back to the county office, she said.
Various agencies also submit daily death records to keep voter rolls updated, and if someone registers to vote in another county after moving, that county will contact the local office, Van Wolfe said.
“It’s just a constant paper chase for us,” she said.
Williamson County Elections Administrator Chris Davis said more than half of the 2,033 voters on his county’s list were being removed after the state’s revision, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Travis County Tax Office spokeswoman Tiffany Seward said 634 people the state identified for review, 14 percent of the county’s initial list, have been removed, the Morning News reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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