'Message to Rest of the Country': Federal Judge Orders Texas to Stop Voter Purge

Voting rights advocates celebrated a federal judge’s ruling Wednesday that ordered the state of Texas to stop removing voters from registration rolls. 

The order came from U.S. district judge Fred Biery in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of rights groups against Texas Secretary of State David Whitley.

According to NBC News:

In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, welcomed Biery’s ruling—specifically the judge’s rejection of the premise of the state’s purge list.

“Today, the court recognized what we have been saying all along,” said the ACLU Texas staff attorney Thomas Buser-Clancy. “This voter purge discriminates against naturalized citizens using a process that the court described as ‘ham-handed’ and ‘threatening.'”

Other groups and advocates, including the national ACLU, weighed in on social media.

Whitley’s “purge list,” at the center of the suit, overwhelmingly targets naturalized citizens. And the list isn’t a corrective to a temporary problem—it’s meant to continue to purge voters on a rolling basis.

From the suit (pdf):

Rights groups involved in the litigation have alleged that the list is meant to intimidate immigrants and make it harder for people to vote in Texas.

“Texas is stirring up anti-immigrant sentiment, undermining the public’s faith in our democracy, and preparing to purge thousands of eligible citizens from the rolls,” Chiraag Bains, director of legal strategies at Demos, said when the suit was initially filed in federal court.

For now, Biery’s order only stops the purge from continuing—a temporary stoppage, but the language of the ruling indicates that Texas will have a difficult road ahead to prove the necessity of the purge.

 “Let this be a message to the rest of the country,”  the Campaign Legal Center, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, said in a statement, “that states will face consequences when they threaten their citizens’ right to vote.”

 

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