UPDATE: This piece originally erroneously stated that a number of "illegal immigrants" were registered to vote and in fact voted in recent elections. While the report from the Secretary of State indicated that these registered voters may have been non-citizens, the fact that they presented valid work visas and green cards as forms of ID indicates that, while they were likely not citizens and thus ineligible to vote, they are not illegal immigrants. Additionally, as noted by the Secretary of State, it is possible that out of the 58,000 non-citizens identified who cast a vote, some portion of that figure may have been naturalized before voting. We regret the errors.
Texas Secretary of State David Whitley revealed in a report Friday that a shocking number of non-citizens are registered to vote in The Lone Star State, many of whom actually cast votes in recent elections.
What are the details?
An investigation discovered that about 95,000 people identified by the Texas Department of Public Safety as non-U.S. citizens are registered to vote. Of those, records indicate 58,000 have voted at least once in elections over the past 22 years, KXAN-TV reported. As noted by the Secretary of State, it is entirely possible that some of that 58,000 may have been naturalized as U.S. citizens before voting, and it is impossible to tell with accuracy how many illegal votes may have been cast.
The shocking revelation was discovered during routine maintenance of the state's voter rolls, which is mandated by state and federal law to ensure that only qualified citizens are registered to vote. Being a U.S. citizen is the primary qualification for voting.
Whitley's office reportedly turned over the discovery to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who would conceivably prosecute any illegal activity.
"Every single instance of illegal voting threatens democracy in our state and deprives individual Texans of their voice. My Election Fraud Unit stands ready to investigate and prosecute crimes against the democratic process when needed," Paxton said in a statement, according to KXAS-TV.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he supports prosecution "where appropriate."
Thanks to Attorney General Paxton and the Secretary of State for uncovering and investigating this illegal vote registration. I support prosecution where appropriate. The State will work on legislation to safeguard against these illegal practices. #txlege#tcothttps://t.co/UwtyXijVwK
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 25, 2019
While the news generated much attention, not everyone bought the statistics. State Rep. Rafael Anchia (D), chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, said if the allegations are true — which he doubts because "Texas politicians conjure the specter of voter fraud as pretext to suppress legitimate votes" — then blame falls on the shoulders of Abbott, Paxton, and other Republican state leaders.
Between 2005 and 2017, Texas officials prosecuted 97 cases of voter fraud. However, in 2018 alone, Paxton's office prosecuted 33 individuals for election fraud.