Texas Purges 'Potentially Deceased' Voters From Rolls, Residents Say
(CN) - The Texas Secretary of State is purging people from the voting rolls after informing them that they are "potentially deceased," after secretly, and illegally, giving herself the power to do so, four undead men claim in court.
Lead plaintiff Michael E. Moore sued Secretary of State Hope Andrade, in Travis County Court. Moore and Andrew Young also sued Travis County Voting Registrar.
The two other plaintiffs, from two other counties, sued only Andrade.
All four say they received notices "that they were 'potentially deceased' and that their voter registration was subject to 'cancellation.' These notices were apparently on a form prescribed by defendant Andrade and were sent to plaintiffs at the command of defendant Andrade.
"Plaintiffs are aware of many other citizens across the state who have experienced similar threats to their right to vote." (References to exhibits deleted.)
The complaint states: "Defendant Andrade's attempted purge of supposedly deceased voters is totally flawed and threatens to disrupt the upcoming November election."
Texas' 82nd Legislature-the current one-adopted SB1046 and HB 174, ordering the Secretary of State to get quarterly reports from the Social Security Administration and use the supposedly dead people on the lists to purge Texas' voting rolls.
"The secretary has recently notified registrars across the state that thousands of voters are dead or 'potentially' dead subject to providing evidence to the registrars within 30 days that they are alive," the complaint states. "Without such evidence, they are to be purged from the voter rolls.
"The death notices sent by the secretary were based upon a rule adopted by the secretary without notice or public input in violation of ADAP. [The Texas Administrative Procedures Act.]
"The secretary has adopted a rule in which she has determined who is dead or potentially dead. The rule has two prongs, 'Strong Matches' and 'Weak Matches.' Thousands of Texans who are alive and kicking have been classified as potentially dead by the secretary under the Weak Match category."
Sickness, travel or changes of address may prevent living people from getting their own death notice and responding, the plaintiffs say. "Once purged, the voter will have to re-register to vote again. The registration, however, will not be effective for 30 days, which may cause the voter to be ineligible to vote in the upcoming general election."
There are 45 days until the Nov. 6 presidential election.
"Thousands upon thousands of Texans or their families have been needlessly notified that they or their relatives are dead or potentially dead.
"The 'rule' is unenforceable because of the defendant Andrade's failure to comply with the TAPA."
Even if the rule had been properly adopted, the plaintiffs say, it still would be invalid, as the Texas Election Code requires that registrars first must inform voters that they are being investigated if a registrar believes the voter is ineligible.
Under Andrade's "rule," she considers a person dead if the last four digits on his or her Social Security match the birth date of the presumably dead person-whether the name or address matches or not, according to the complaint. And if they do not respond within 30 days, "the voter registered is then required under Section 16.033(d) to cancel the voter's registration," the plaintiffs say, citing Andrade's rule.
"As there is no basis upon which any person can form a reasonable belief that someone has deceased based simply upon the last four digits of a Social Security number and a birthday, the secretary's 'rule' violates the Election Code and would therefore be unenforceable even if validly promulgated."
The plaintiffs say the rule is invalid also because such a change requires preclearance from the Justice Department under the Voting Rights Act.
They want enforcement of the rule enjoined, and costs.
They are represented by Randall Wood and David Richards.