By Stephen Dinan – The Washington Times reports:
The Public Interest Legal Foundation alerted district attorneys and the Justice Department to the prechecked applications and included a signed affidavit from a man who said some of his relatives, who aren’t citizens, received the mailing.
“This is how the Texas Democratic Party is inviting foreign influence in an election in a federal election cycle,” said Logan Churchwell, spokesman for the Public Interest Legal Foundation. The group has made its mark by policing states’ voter registration practices.
The Texas secretary of state’s office said it received complaints from immigrants and from relatives of dead people who got mailings asking them to register.
Spokesman Sam Taylor said it was “a pretty large volume of calls.”
He said his office is not able to reveal whether it has been asked to investigate.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation, though, publicly released complaints it sent to Hidalgo and Starr counties asking for an investigation. The organization provided copies of premarked voter applications and the affidavit from the man who said his noncitizen relatives received the mailing.
The applications were pre-addressed to elections officials, which is likely what led many to believe they were receiving official communication from the state.
But the return address was from the State Democratic Executive Committee and listed an address in Austin that matches the state Democratic Party’s headquarters.
The letter is emblazoned with the message “Urgent! Your voter registration deadline is October 9.” It continues: “Your voter registration application is inside. Complete, sign and return it today!”
On the application, boxes affirming that the applicant is at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen are already checked with an “X” in the “Yes” field.
The message urges those who are unsure whether they are registered to “Mail it in.”
A person answering phones at the state party declined to connect The Washington Times with any officials there and insisted that a reporter email questions. That email went unanswered.
Mr. Taylor, the spokesman for the secretary of state, said the office heard from people whose relatives were receiving mail 10 or more years after their deaths. One woman said her child, who had been dead for 19 years, got a mailing asking to register.
“It looks like a case of really bad information they are using to send out these mailers,” Mr. Taylor said.
He said some of the noncitizens who called wondered whether there had been some change that made them legally able to vote.
Mr. Taylor said the state has a law against encouraging people to falsify voter applications but it would be up to investigators to decide whether prechecking boxes rose to that level.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation has been pushing state election officials in recent years to be wary of noncitizens who manage to register and, in many cases, to cast ballots. The organization has found thousands of people who later admitted they weren’t citizens but managed to register or vote in New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
The organization is also embroiled in a legal battle with Harris County, Texas, which has declined to provide similar voter data.
The foundation said the origin of noncitizen voting is usually motor vehicle bureaus, where people are encouraged to register and often ignore or miss the admonition that they must be citizens.
In this case, though, the invitations were sent directly by a political party.
The data from North Carolina suggests that noncitizens’ votes skew decidedly Democrat based on their pattern of voting in primaries.
The affidavit the Public Interest Legal Foundation provided to prosecutors Thursday is from David C. Kifuri Jr.
He said several relatives who are legal permanent residents but not citizens received the mailing and were confused. He said in his affidavit that he told the relatives to report the mailing to local authorities and not to fill it out any further.
The Hidalgo County election office said it forwards all applications that arrive to the state for processing. Officials can’t tell whether something was prechecked or not.
A county elections spokeswoman couldn’t say whether prechecking the citizenship box was legal.
Mr. Churchwell, though, said it crosses lines because prosecutors need to be able to see the intent of the applicant, and a prechecked box defeats that.
Mr. Churchwell said the party was putting immigrants in a tough position, as evidenced by the number of them who were calling state officials wondering whether there had been some change allowing them to vote.
“The victims will actually be the noncitizens,” he said.