David Whitley | KERA News

David Whitley

Texas Secretary of State David Whitley office initiated a review of the voter rolls to look for noncitizens.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

The U.S. House’s main investigative committee has opened an inquiry into the Texas secretary of state’s review of the voter rolls for supposed noncitizens.

The day after a federal judge in San Antonio criticized Texas Secretary of State David Whitley’s effort to remove alleged noncitizens from voter rolls, a state Senate committee approved his nomination.

A long line of voters wait to cast their ballots at the Wonderland of the Americas Mall in San Antonio late Friday afternoon, Nov. 2, the last day of early voting.
Robin Jerstad for The Texas Tribune

In a major victory for voting rights groups, a federal judge has ordered that no Texas county should purge suspected non-citizen voters from the rolls or issue letters demanding that they prove their citizenship “without prior approval of the Court with a conclusive showing that the person is ineligible to vote.”

As the nomination of Texas Secretary of State David Whitley faces tough prospects in the Senate, two Republican senators filed bills raising the stakes for his effort to remove suspected noncitizens from voter rolls.

Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, left, arrives for his confirmation hearing in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 7, 2019.
Associated Press

Opposition has intensified against Texas' new election chief as a key lawmaker said he won't back Gov. Greg Abbott's nominee, who called into question the U.S. citizenship of 95,000 voters using faulty data.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton assured lawmakers on Friday that his office hadn’t launched criminal investigations into nearly 100,000 voters flagged by the secretary of state’s office for citizenship review.

Texas' election chief on Thursday defended giving prosecutors a list of 95,000 potential noncitizens on the state's voter rolls before vetting the information, which turned out to wrongly include scores of people who were naturalized before casting legal ballots.

Julieta Garibay is one of almost 100,000 people on Texas' voter rolls who state officials recently said might not be citizens. Like many people on the list, though, the Austin resident recently became a U.S. citizen and has the right to vote.

"What they have set in motion is going to disenfranchise U.S. citizens and it's going to infringe on their right to vote," said state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas.
Associated Press

State Rep. Rafael Anchia had been alarmed by the actions of the Texas secretary of state’s office for days by the time the agency’s chief, David Whitley, walked into the Dallas Democrat’s Capitol office on Monday.

A Latino civil rights organization filed a lawsuit in federal court today against Texas' effort to identify noncitizens who are registered to vote.

The lawsuit brought by the the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) argues state officials violated the Voting Rights Act when they advised local registrars to remove alleged noncitizens from their voter rolls.

The Texas Secretary of State says nearly 100,000 people on the state's voter rolls are not U.S. citizens.

In an advisory today, Secretary of State David Whitley told voter registrars that the Texas Department of Public Safety has identified as many as 95,000 non-U.S. citizens who have a registration record attached to their name. The agency estimates as many as 58,000 of those people have voted "in one or more Texas elections."