58,000 Non-U.S. Citizens Voted in Texas State Elections, Attorney General Paxton Says - NBC New York
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58,000 Non-U.S. Citizens Voted in Texas State Elections, Attorney General Paxton Says

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    58,000 Non-U.S. Citizens Voted in Texas State Elections, Attorney General Paxton Says
    NBC Connecticut

    The Texas Department of Public Safety has identified 58,000 non-U.S. citizens who voted in one or more Texas elections, dating to 1996, according to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office.

    Further, the DPS said there were about 95,000 non-citizens they identified as having a voter registration record in the state.

    "Texas law allows lawfully present noncitizens to obtain driver’s licenses by showing proof of lawful presence to DPS," Paxton's office said in a statement. "However, only citizens are eligible to vote. And Texas law currently does not require verification of a voter’s statement that they are a citizen."

    It's not clear if the remaining 37,000 people attempted to vote in any election, be it local, state or federal, or if those who did vote in state elections also voted in federal elections.

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    The Texas Secretary of State this week provided the information to Paxton's office, which can prosecute election crimes.

    “Every single instance of illegal voting threatens democracy in our state and deprives individual Texans of their voice," Paxton said in a statement. "My Election Fraud Unit stands ready to investigate and prosecute crimes against the democratic process when needed."

    Republican Gov. Greg Abbott praised the findings, which officials said were the result of voter rolls being checked against a state database of Texas residents who are not citizens but leally obtained driver's licenses.

    "I support prosecution where appropriate. The State will work on legislation to safeguard against these illegal practices," Abbott tweeted.

    Sam Taylor, spokesman for the Texas secretary of state's office, said they were "very confident" the citizenship data obtained by the Texas Department of Public Safety was current. But a voting rights group immediately questioned the accuracy of the data and warned that the numbers would likely fuel efforts to tighten voting laws.

    Texas Democratic lawmakers also urged caution, including Dallas state Rep. Rafael Anchia, who said "because we have consistently seen Texas politicians conjure the specter of voter fraud as pretext to suppress legitimate votes, we are naturally skeptical."

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    In his statement, Paxton mentioned three recent convictions for voter fraud obtained by his office for three non-citizens in Tarrant, Montgomery and Navarro counties.

    "Nothing is more vital to preserving our Constitution than the integrity of our voting process, and my office will do everything within its abilities to solidify trust in every election in the state of Texas. I applaud Secretary of State Whitley for his proactive work in safeguarding our elections,” Paxton said.

    Paxton's office said from 2005-2017, the attorney general’s office prosecuted 97 defendants for numerous voter fraud violations.

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    In 2018, Paxton’s Election Fraud Unit – with assistance from a criminal justice grant from the governor’s office – prosecuted 33 defendants for a total of 97 election fraud violations. Last February, the attorney general announced a significant voter fraud initiative and addressed key problems and policy areas related to election law.

    This story contains material from the Associated Press