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Texas county sued over alleged noncitizen voter registration
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Texas county sued over alleged noncitizen voter registration

The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), a conservative legal group concerned with election integrity, filed a suit in the Texas Supreme Court Saturday to prevent what it alleged was noncitizen voter registration in Harris County, Texas.

PILF alleges that Voter Registrar of Harris County Ann Harris Bennett has registered voter applications that did not affirm that the applicant was a US citizen. PILF compiled a list of such voter registrations obtained by court order and found that this practice spanned registrations from 1996 to 2020.

In its complaint, PILF argues that the registration of the voter applications that do not affirm citizenship is illegal under Texas Law:

“To be eligible for registration as a voter in [Texas], a person must … be a United States citizen[.]” “A person desiring to register to vote must submit an application to the registrar of the county in which the person resides.” The “registration application must include … a statement that the applicant is a United States citizen.” Both the Texas voter registration application and the federal voter registration application ask the applicant to affirm his or her citizenship by checking “YES” or “NO” to a variation of the question “Are you a United States citizen?” The Texas voter registration form instructs that the citizenship question “MUST BE COMPLETED BEFORE PROCEEDING.” The Texas Election Code provides, “The registrar shall review each submitted application for registration to determine whether it complies with Section 13.002 and indicates that the applicant is eligible for registration.” “[I]f the registrar determines that an application does not comply with Section 13.002 or does not indicate that the applicant is eligible for registration, the registrar shall reject the application.” Furthermore, “[if] after determining that an application complies with Section 13.002 and indicates that the applicant is eligible for registration, the registrar has reason to believe the applicant is not eligible for registration or the application was submitted in an unauthorized manner, the registrar shall challenge the applicant.”

In announcing the suit, PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams remarked, “The Foundation made a federal case to access to these records—now we see what the fight was all for. … Individuals claiming to be foreign nationals should not be registered in Harris County. These failures harm citizens, but they also put those immigrants into serious jeopardy with federal officials. We hope to see swift action prior to the voting this fall.”

Bennett has stated that all problematic applications were dealt with and that there is no allegation that any noncitizens are currently registered to vote.

PILF is asking the court to order Harris County to reject or challenge every voter application that does not affirm citizenship status in anticipation of the upcoming November election.