Abbott blames flawed voter purge effort on ‘faulty information’ from Department of Public Safety

February 28, 2019

AUSTIN — Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is blaming the Texas Department of Public Safety and its director for the state’s flawed effort to purge non-citizens from the state voter rolls.

“The Secretary of State was hamstrung by faulty information from the Department of Public Safety from the beginning and did not know that,” Abbott said on the KFYO radio program Thursday. “And so part of the fault goes to Steve McCraw, the director of the Department of Public Safety, for causing the error in the first place.”

The Secretary of State’s office in January sent a flawed list of roughly 95,000 suspected noncitizen voters to county election officials, who quickly discovered tens-of-thousands of wrongly flagged names. The analysis relied on a comparison of state voter rolls and driver license records from DPS where people indicated they weren’t citizens. The comparison, however, erroneously flagged registered voters who were recently naturalized.

The debacle is threatening the future of Secretary of State David Whitley, who was nominated in December, but still needs to be confirmed by the State Senate. A Senate Nominations committee voted along party lines Thursday to advance his nomination, but all 12 Senate Democrats have said they will oppose his appointment on the floor.

When asked whether he thinks any Democrats might reconsider, Abbott said he “wouldn’t be surprised” and that conversations are ongoing.

Abbott also defended Whitley, his former deputy chief of staff.

“I think he is advancing something that we can all agree on, and that is no one who is in the country illegally, who is illegally registered to vote, should be capable of voting,” he said.