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County official concerned over accuracy of list of ineligible voters

January 30, 2019

Cameron County Elections Administrator Remi Garza says officials are working to determine the accuracy of a list of voters released by the Texas Secretary of State’s Office of nearly 100,000 registered voters who may not be U.S. citizens.

However, Garza said elections staff here are not sure how accurate information provided to him for Cameron County actually is.

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, it discovered that approximately 95,000 people identified by the Texas Department of Public Safety as non-U.S. citizens that have matching voter registration records, including approximately 58,000 who have voted in one or more Texas elections. Only U.S. citizens are allowed to vote and anyone who knows they are not eligible to vote and vote anyway are committing a second-degree felony.

Garza said the Secretary of State’s Office sent him a list Monday morning that included a little more than 1,600 people that it identified as non-citizens registered to vote in Cameron County through DPS records.

However, on Tuesday morning, the Secretary of State’s Office called him to say that 1,592 people should not have been on the list, dropping the number of individuals down to 30.

To make matters more confusing for Garza, the Secretary of State’s Office called less than three hours later to tell him that the original list of a little more than 1,600 was correct.

Since then, Garza said his office has been able to remove 300 people from the list after determining they are citizens.

"So we are reviewing 1,300 names as of this morning," Garza said.

Elections officials are trying to determine whether some of the people DPS flagged on the list sent to Cameron County have since become naturalized U.S. citizens.

"We are trying to look at the dates of when that happened, of when they were at DPS and when they registered to vote to kind of see if we could identify a progression of them obtaining citizenship," Garza said.

But he’s moving cautiously.

"I mean, to take action against somebody’s voter registration status based on something that inaccurate was a little uncomfortable for me," Garza said of his concerns over the list’s accuracy.

The Secretary of State’s Office has asked election administrators to send notices to everyone on that list asking them to prove they are a citizen and if they indicate they are not a citizen or do not respond within 30 days, their voter registration should be cancelled.

Garza said his office is first working to determine the accuracy of the list before sending notices.

mreagan@brownsvilleherald.com

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