Texas Admits Errors in Illegal Voter Report of 95,000, Claims It's Now Much Lower

A preliminary report of 95,000 registered Texas voters who weren't U.S. citizens changed to a much lower number, and the governor said that didn't cause concern in Austin, even though he had praised the original finding.

As the secretary of state and county election officials scrubbed the voter rolls, they found that many of the voters listed on the original report were either citizens or had become citizens after they were issued driver's licenses and identification cards.

Following an 11-month investigation, David Whitley, the newly appointed secretary of state, flagged 95,000 voters that the Department of Public Safety said weren't U.S. citizens when checking documentation linked to their licenses and IDs.

Whitley's office claimed that 58,000 of the registered voters on the list cast a ballot in at least one election in the past 22 years

Newsweek subscription offers >

Whitley turned the report over to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who tweeted last Friday of a "voter fraud alert."

"The @TXsecofstate discovered approx 95,000 individuals identified by DPS as non-U.S. citizens have a matching voter registration record in TX, approx 58,000 of whom have voted in TX elections. Any illegal vote deprives Americans of their voice."

Newsweek subscription offers >

Governor Greg Abbott was quick to thank Paxton.

"Thanks to Attorney General Paxton and the Secretary of State for uncovering and investigating this illegal vote registration," Abbott tweeted. "I support prosecution where appropriate. The State will work on legislation to safeguard against these illegal practices."

As the list began circulating around Texas's 254 counties, red flags popped up on those who had been flagged. One by one, and then by the hundreds, and then thousands, the original number began dwindling.

While the governor disregarded the new numbers, he still called for a quick correction to the state's voting rolls.

"This is what you would categorize as a process, a work [in progress]," Abbott said, reported the Texas Tribune. "They'll get it right, but I do want to be emphatic: It is essential that the secretary of state, [the Department of Public Safety], counties, anybody with any authority over this whatsoever work collaboratively and swiftly together to make sure our voter rolls are accurate, to ensure integrity in the election process."

At a news conference Thursday, Abbott acknowledged the original list of 95,000 as a "weak match," and that state officials will continue to work removing those who don't have "legal authority" to vote.

"They were clear that it was a weak match, and they were reaching out to counties, saying, 'Listen, this isn't a hard-and-fast list," Abbott said. "This is a list that we need to work on together to make sure that those who do not have the legal authority to vote are not going to be able to vote."

The errant report could have resulted in massive erasure of names from voting rolls, especially in larger communities. In Houston, the original report called for the removal of about 18,000 voters. The new report is only 40 percent of that number.

In Williamson County, an affluent suburb north of Austin, voting officials were told to remove 2,033 names, but it has since been cut in half, as those voters were identified as naturalized citizens.

In Waco, the entire list of 366 voters was tossed out because none of their citizenship statuses were actually in question.

Texas Admits Errors in Illegal Voter Report of 95,000, Claims It's Now Much Lower | U.S.