- The Texas secretary of state has apologised for misleading reports that said tens of thousands of people in the state had voted illegally.
- David Whitley’s apology comes nearly a month after his office released a report that suggested 58,000 non-US citizens may have voted illegally in past Texas elections.
- Republican lawmakers, including President Donald Trump, seized on the figures, claiming they proved rampant voter fraud.
David Whitley, the Texas secretary of state, apologised for a misleading claim that tens of thousands of non-citizens were registered to vote.
Last month the secretary of state’s office said it was investigating the legal status of 95,000 registered voters who had provided work visas or green cards as documents when they obtained a driver’s licence or ID, which may suggest they were not citizens.
Of these, according to the Texas Tribune, the secretary of state’s office said about 58,000 individuals cast a ballot in one or more elections since 1996. Officials said the names identified are “WEAK” matches that counties may choose to investigate or not.
Those figures have proven to be invalid, as outlets including the Texas Tribune found that tens of thousands of those counted were US citizens.
President Donald Trump seized on the news, using the numbers released as evidence of massive voter fraud.
“58,000 non-citizens voted in Texas, with 95,000 non-citizens registered to vote,” Trump wrote. “These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. All over the country, especially in California, voter fraud is rampant. Must be stopped. Strong voter ID!”
58,000 non-citizens voted in Texas, with 95,000 non-citizens registered to vote. These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. All over the country, especially in California, voter fraud is rampant. Must be stopped. Strong voter ID! @foxandfriends
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2019
Trump’s tweet seemed to be referencing a Fox News segment on the investigation, which also decried voter fraud.
Witley apologised to state lawmakers in a letter sent last week that comes amid his paused confirmation hearings.
“I have discovered that additional refining of the data my office provides to county voter registrars, both in substance and in timing, is necessary to ensure a more accurate and efficient list maintenance process,” Whitley wrote on Wednesday.
In an earlier appearance in confirmation hearings, Whitley blamed unclear wording in a press release on the investigation.
“I recognise this caused some confusion about our intentions, which were at all times aimed at maintaining the accuracy and integrity of the voter rolls,” he continued. “To the extent my actions missed that mark, I apologise.”
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