“We’re Not Dead,” Say Texas Voters Informed They Were Dead

LTB logo

It must be awkward when you’ve declared someone dead and then they not only show up alive, they show up with lawyers.

Texas logoAccording to Businessweek, a Texas judge has granted an injunction at least temporarily halting officials’ plans to purge 77,000 “presumably dead voters” from the rolls, finding (this is my interpretation, anyway) that the four plaintiffs had successfully rebutted that presumption by being alive. The Texas Secretary of State tried to identify dead voters (or former voters) by cross-referencing the state’s lists with the U.S. Social Security Administration’s master death list. (This is a list of people who have already died, not the President’s list of people he’s thinking about killing.) At least one county registrar (Don Sumners of Harris County) refused to comply with instructions to delete thousands of names, based on his belief that the Social Security database is unreliable and/or that other mistakes were made.

He apparently believed this because, after getting notices informing them that they would not be allowed to vote, hundreds of the presumably dead contacted him to complain.

The state responded to Sumners’ information calmly and rationally by changing its plans. What? No it didn’t, it cut off Harris County’s election funds in an effort to force it to purge the dead voters, whether the dead voters liked it or not. After some haggling, Sumners said he would purge voters whose families confirmed their deaths before the election, and the state agreed to restore funding (essentially backing down).

The four not-dead plaintiffs argue that there is no state-law authority for the purge and that because Texas has a history of voting-rights violations (not against the undead, but still), it was required by the federal Voting Rights Act to get pre-approval for the relevant rule change.

Legal battles involving electoral issues are going on in at least seven states, and surprisingly, according to a law professor quoted by Businessweek, support for one side or another “often falls along party lines.” Not to take sides here, but I did note the other day that after a months-long effort in Florida to weed out falsely registered voters, exactly one such person had been found and charged, a Canadian (who was registered as an independent).