On Nov. 8, residents of Texas will head to the polls in order to cast their ballots in a number of high-profile races, including the race for governor.
Incumbent Greg Abbott, a Republican, is facing off against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke. Other seats on the ballot include the lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, land commissioner and agriculture commissioner, all of which are four-year terms.
With the voter registration deadline coming up on Oct. 11, one TikToker went viral advising Texans to check and re-check their voter registration status. The poster claims a recent court ruling makes it possible for the state to pull the voter registration for anyone the state thinks is a noncitizen.
“If you’re in Texas, you need to check your voter registration every day until voting because of course a Texas appeals judge just said they can withhold the list of people they think are noncitizens and shouldn’t be able to vote,” the TikToker says. “And they’re not telling who’s on that list. If they ‘think’ you’re a noncitizen, they can withhold you and your vote won’t count.”
VERIFY viewer Kimberly also asked us if it was true the state of Texas is revoking people’s voter registrations without telling them.
Is the state of Texas revoking people's voter registrations without telling them?
- Final judgment from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
- Sam Taylor, the assistant secretary of state for communications with the Texas Secretary of State
- Texas Election Code
- National Voter Registration Act of 1993
No, the state of Texas is not revoking people's voter registrations without telling them.
WHAT WE FOUND
The court ruling the TikToker mentions dealt with noncitizen voters, but it did not allow the state to revoke people’s registration without notice.
Before we get into the details of the ruling, it's important to understand the state's process for flagging noncitizen voters and who is allowed to vote in the state of Texas.
To vote in Texas or any other state election, you must be a U.S. citizen and 18 years of age or older on Election Day. A full list of eligibility requirements is here.
According to Sam Taylor, a spokesperson with the Texas secretary of state, which is the state’s chief election officer, the process to determine eligibility works like this:
- If a person registers to vote, then later goes into a Texas Department of Public Safety Driver License office and indicates he or she is a non-U.S. citizen, then the person’s registration is flagged to the county voter registrar with whom they are registered.
- The county then sends a notification to the voter, via mail, that their registration has been flagged for potential non-U.S. citizenship, and the person has 30 days to respond to the county voter registrar with proof of U.S. citizenship. If the person does not respond within 30 days, the voter registration is canceled.
“However, the voter’s registration can be reinstated immediately, including at the polling place, if the voter provides proof of U.S. citizenship,” Taylor said in an email to VERIFY.
According to Texas Election Code, a person who needs to prove citizenship can provide a certified copy of the voter's birth certificate, United States passport, or certificate of naturalization to re-register to vote if they had their registration stripped.
Texas is required to notify people that have been flagged as noncitizens under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), which set the guidelines and voter registration requirements across the U.S.
Now, to explain the details behind the court ruling.
According to court records, earlier this year, a coalition of civil rights groups sued the state after it refused to provide the list of more than 11,000 people the state said were identified as noncitizens and were ineligible to vote. The goal of the suit was to make sure the state was complying with the NVRA and that all the people on that list were actually not eligible to vote.
The groups asked the Secretary of State to provide data about each individual, including the date the person registered to vote, the date their driver’s license was issued and voting history.
The state denied the request, saying releasing the list violated privacy laws. In August, a district court judge sided with the civil rights groups, saying the state had to disclose the records.
But, the appellate court reversed that decision on Sept. 29, saying the organizations named in the original case didn’t have the authority to sue the state in the first place, and therefore the state doesn’t have to release the list.
That doesn’t mean every voter in Texas needs to check their registration status regularly to see if they have been labeled as a non-citizen, as the TikToker claimed. We can VERIFY the court ruling was about releasing a list, not about how the state flags who can and can’t register to vote or be registered to vote.
In Texas, the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 8 election is Oct. 11. Voters in Texas can check their registration status online through the Secretary of State at this link.