Judge Orders More Data on Potential Voter Registration Fixes in Texas
AUSTIN, Texas — Saying he wants a firm grasp of how long it will take Texas to comply with federal voter registration mandates, a U.S. judge on Monday ordered opposing sides to meet with technology specialists by the end of the week.
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia said state officials had previously estimated that it would take 90 days to let Texans register to vote at the same time they go online to renew a driver’s license.
The judge has ruled that simultaneous registration is required by the “motor voter” provision of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act.
At a recent hearing, however, a lawyer for Texas said it could take a year or longer to meet an “interim step” requested by civil rights lawyers — requiring Texas to mail a preprinted voter registration form that includes the name, address and other driver’s license data so voters could sign and mail it in.
Such a step would comply with a state law requiring a valid signature on every voter form while a longer-term solution is found that would allow for simultaneous registration, lawyers with the Texas Civil Rights Project said.
Garcia ordered lawyers for both sides to file sworn declarations by the end of Monday on the feasibility of proposed fixes and how long they would take to accomplish.
“It is difficult to believe that full compliance with the NYRA could be accomplished in 90 days, yet this interim measure would take months, a year, or more,” Garcia wrote.
The judge also ordered state officials to begin tracking how many people click a voter registration link while renewing their driver’s license on the Department of Public Safety website.
“Defendants’ decision not to track, record, or preserve such information at this juncture, after four years of litigation, is concerning,” he wrote.
In Texas, those who renew a driver’s license online must click a separate link to download a voter registration form to print out, fill in and mail to county voting officials.
A lawsuit filed on behalf of three Texans argues that the motor voter law requires the state to let voters update their registration address — or register to vote for the first time — while they renew a driver’s license online.
Last week, Garcia gave state officials until Monday — the deadline to register to vote for the March 3 primaries — to ensure that the three plaintiffs are registered to vote using information they supplied to DPS.
On Monday, state officials informed Garcia that they had complied with that order.
©2020 Austin American-Statesman, Texas
Visit Austin American-Statesman, Texas at www.statesman.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
In The News
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida law requiring felons to pay legal fees as part of their sentences before regaining the vote is unconstitutional for those unable to pay, or unable to find out how much they owe, a federal judge ruled Sunday. The 125-page ruling... Read More
(AP) — Americans prepared to mark a Memorial Day like no other as the coronavirus pandemic upended traditional commemorations. U.S. authorities warned beach-goers to heed social distancing rules to avoid a resurgence of the virus that has infected 5.4 million people worldwide and killed over 345,000,... Read More
A former elections judge in Philadelphia pleaded guilty to accepting cash and "other things of value" in return for tampering with the results of city primary elections over several years, the Justice Department announced Thursday. Domenick J. Demuro pleaded guilty to “conspiring to deprive persons of... Read More
Thousands of Michigan residents were forced to evacuate their homes on Wednesday after heavy rains caused two dams to fail in Midland county, about 120 miles northwest of the city of Detroit. The breaches of the Edenville and Sanford Dams sent a deluge of water into... Read More
President Donald Trump took a page from his Ukraine scandal playbook Wednesday and threatened to withhold federal aid for Michigan and Nevada if the states allow residents to vote by mail in November’s general election. Trump, who was impeached last year for holding up $391 million... Read More
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is defending his administration’s reporting of coronavirus data, after a state Department of Health manager said she was fired for refusing to manipulate COVID-19 tracking data as officials moved to reopen the state. Rebekah Jones, who was in charge of Florida’s online... Read More