State officials are investigating complaints of potentially fraudulent voter applications mailed by the Texas Democratic Party to non-citizens in South Texas.
Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos confirmed this week he’s asked for a criminal investigation after receiving evidence the Texas Democratic Party urged non-citizens to register to vote by mailing them forms that were pre-filled to indicate applicants are U.S. citizens.
As Texas Scorecard previously reported, it is a Class B misdemeanor under Texas Election Code to make a false statement, or attempt to induce another person to make a false statement, on a voter registration application.
In a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office last week, Pablos said the evidence “warrants a submission for a criminal investigation.”
“I respectfully request your assistance reviewing allegations of criminal activity in connection with pre-marked voter registration applications sent to multiple non-United States citizens in the Rio Grande Valley, as well as with applications sent to deceased individuals,” Pablos wrote.
Pablos said his office has received “numerous calls and complaints” from confused and concerned Texans about the mailers sent to ineligible people and already-registered voters by the Texas Democrats, which he called “highly disturbing.”
A written complaint submitted by Public Interest Legal Foundation, a nonprofit law firm dedicated to election integrity, alerted officials to the altered applications:
“Texas Democrat Party mailers circulated around the Rio Grande Valley region of south Texas landed in the hands of lawfully present noncitizens in late September and early October. The envelopes contained voter registration applications where the answers to questions ‘Are you a United States Citizen?’ and ‘Will you be 18 years of age on or before election day?’ were pre-printed ‘Yes’ for each.”
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa scoffed at the complaints about voters’ confusion and said the citizenship checkbox shouldn’t even be on registration forms. “The problem that happens with this state is that they use hyper-technical laws to prevent people from registering to vote and to prevent people from voting,” Hinojosa said. Federal law, the National Voter Registration Act, requires voter applications to contain a citizenship attestation.
“The Lone Star State will not tolerate these activities,” Pablos said in an advisory issued earlier this month warning Texans about the potentially fraudulent voter registration materials and cautioning them to “stay vigilant” when receiving registration or ballot materials by mail.
“It is important for Texans to understand proper and legal procedures for registering to vote and casting a ballot, including those who qualify to submit their ballots by mail,” Pablos said.
Problems with voter registration and voting by mail persist in South Texas. Just this month, a Starr County woman was arrested twice in two weeks on felony voter fraud charges including stealing an elderly voter’s mail-in ballot and tampering with voter registration applications. In September, Starr County election officials settled a federal lawsuit over the county’s failure to maintain clean voter rolls.
Texans can find accurate information about registering to vote and voting at www.VoteTexas.gov.