Federal Judge Slaps Down Abbott/Paxton Texas Voter Purge

Court order requires State leaders to get Court approval before any voters removed from rolls

In a court order issued earlier today, Federal District Court Judge Fred Biery stopped Greg Abbott and his Secretary of State in their tracks prohibiting them from taking further action to remove Texans from the voter rolls without getting the process approved by the federal court. The order extends to county officials as well.

Excerpts from Judge Biery’s order are direct and damning:

  • “The evidence has shown in a hearing before this Court that there is no widespread voter fraud."
  • “It appears this is a solution looking for a problem.”
  • “…perfectly legal naturalized Americans were burdened with what the Court finds to be ham-handed and threatening correspondence from the state which did not politely ask for information but rather exemplifies the power of government to strike fear and anxiety and to intimidate the least powerful among us.”
  • “…local officials are ORDERED not to remove any person from the current voter registration list until authorized by this Court.”
  • “…the Secretary of State is affirmatively ORDERED to advise and direct local voting officials not to send notice of examination letters nor remove voters from registration without prior approval of the Court”
  • “…the Secretary of State is ORDERED to tell other counties which are not parties to this litigation, or party counties which will not agree to a pause, not to send any notice of examination letters nor remove voters from registration without prior approval of the Court with a conclusive showing that the person is ineligible to vote.”
  • “The Court further finds and concludes the Secretary of State, though perhaps unintentionally, created this mess. As Robert Fuighum taught in All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, "always put things back where we found them and clean up our own messes."


Comments from Lone Star Project Director, Matt Angle:

“Judge Biery joins a long line of federal judges who looked at the facts and ruled that Texas Republican leaders used their official powers to violate the voting rights of Texas citizens.

“Texas Republican leaders don’t even try to fake it anymore. They exist in mortal fear of a growing electorate and their hostility to voters of color drives virtually every move they make related to elections.

"Too often Greg Abbott’s quiet demeanor gets him a pass. The one constant in the long list of state actions ruled to be discriminatory by federal judges since 2002 is Greg Abbott. Whether Governor or AG, Greg Abbott is the point in the spear of voter intimidation and suppression in Texas.

“Hypocrisy is too civil a word to describe Ken Paxton yelling 'voter fraud' while he sits under felony indictment awaiting trial for swindling and fraud. Paxton is an ethics dumpster fire whose career defines corruption.”

Evidence and Background Information

Background

State Republican leaders compiled a list of over 95,000 Texas residents and alleged that they were non-citizens on the current voter rolls and claimed that over 50,000 had cast ballots in Texas elections. The list was broken down by county, and then county elections administrators were directed to remove anyone on the list whose citizenship could not be confirmed.

In an effort to sensationalize the issue and intimidate voters, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott immediately issued a press release headed “Voter Fraud” alert and using language clearly intended to intimidate and suppress Latino and other Texas voters of color.

The entire operation was a transparent effort to justify a voter purge in Texas.

A cursory review of the Secretary of State’s list revealed tens of thousands of Texans who are citizens, legally registered and able to vote. Abbott’s Secretary of State appointee, David Whitley took so much criticism for bungled vote suppression effort that his confirmation as Secretary of State has so far been blocked.

Minority advocacy and voter protection groups including LULAC, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus and the Campaign Legal Center filed suit in federal district court on behalf of citizens targeted by State leaders. The order by Judge Biery follows days of testimony where plaintiff attorneys built an overwhelming record condemning the intent and process used by Republican State leaders.

The full Court order and other key documents can be seen to the right.

More detail on the case can be seen at the Campaign Legal Center case page here.

February 27, 2019 Order

Order re Purge.pdf

LULAC Attachment A

61-1.pdf

LULAC Attachment B

61-2.pdf

LULAC Attachment C

61-3.pdf