Court dismisses lawsuit against Harris Co. voter registrar over non-citizens registered to vote

The state court has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the Harris County Voter Registrar that included evidence of non-citizens being registered to vote even after checking “no” on the application citizenship question.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation who filed the lawsuit told FOX 26 this was apparently an issue of them being the wrong plaintiff. The registrar’s office pointed out that the group filing the suit is out of Indiana. That’s aside from the evidence of non-citizens registering to vote.

The lawsuit was dismissed by the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals in Houston two days after it was filed. The lawsuit seeking to prevent non-citizens from voting in the future included dozens of photocopies of voter registration applications that showed the applicant admitted to not being a citizen yet was still registered to vote by the Harris County Registrar’s Office. All applications were at least several years old—some dating back to the 1990s. Documentation showed the mistake was eventually corrected years later, and the person was removed from the voter roll.

PILF told FOX 26 they obtained the documents through an open records request and that they also requested documentation of errors in the voter rolls more recently but did not receive any. The current voter registrar, Ann Harris Bennett, has been in office since 2017. Her spokesperson told FOX 26 by phone no non-citizens have been registered to vote under her leadership.

The registrar’s office declined all of FOX 26’s formal interview requests this week.

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In a statement, Harris Bennett said, “The Harris County Voter Registrar accurately and professionally maintains 2.4 million Harris County voter records.”

She declined to answer questions about how those records are maintained and how errors in applications are caught.

The former voter registrar and current State Senator Paul Bettencourt did answer questions about how his office made sure election integrity was maintained. He said software helped catch mistakes.

“If you had a ‘no’ in there, it would give you a quick flag, and that was back in the last decade,” said Bettencourt. “At this point in time, if they’re using the same software or somebody’s overriding it, you can’t register somebody that’s coming in with a ‘no.’ And we got electronic data transfers from Department of Public Safety, and there were checks brought in from that as well.”

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He says the Secretary of State’s Office does have the ability to crosscheck voter rolls as well. Their office did not immediately respond to FOX 26’s questions about that crosschecking.

October 5 is the deadline to register to vote. By law, you must be 18 or older, a U.S. citizen, and a resident of the county where you register to vote. You must not be serving time for a felony, and you must not be mentally incapacitated in order to become registered to vote.