Some 5,100 Bexar County voters have been flagged by the Texas Secretary of State for a citizenship test, but local leaders do not expect to find a large number of illegal immigrants casting a ballot, as some have predicted, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
"I don’t know, out of that 5,100, how many actually voted, but we'll be sending a letter asking for their documentation and hopefully we'll get a response to that," Judge Nelson Wolff says.
On Friday, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley release a report stating that there were 95,000 registered voters in Texas who they feel that counties should consider checking to see whether they are U.S. citizens. Among those, about 58,000 of them cast a ballot in one or more elections from 1996 to 2018.
"Integrity and efficiency of elections in Texas require accuracy of our state's voter rolls, and my office is committed to using all available tools under the law to maintain an accurate list of registered voters," Whitley said in a statement.
Some quickly took that report to mean that illegal immigrants had voted in Texas. Even President Donald Trump tweeted his outrage.
"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!"
But voting experts say the salacious headline is misleading. The reason the names were tagged was because they were non-citizens who proved they were in the country legally to get a drivers license, and then went on to register to vote.
Jeff Blaylock, who heads Texas Election Source, predicts that the vast majority will be people who came here on a visa but eventually became naturalized citizens and then registered to vote.
"This data is going back more than 22 years so it's quite possible that any time during that stretch those individuals could have become naturalized citizens," he says.
Some 50,000 people a year in Texas on visas become citizens.
Still, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton vows an investigation.
"Every single instance of illegal voting threatens democracy in our state and deprives individual Texans of their voice. We’re honored to have partnered with the Texas Secretary of State’s office in the past on voter initiatives and we will spare no effort in assisting with these troubling cases. My Election Fraud Unit stands ready to investigate and prosecute crimes against the democratic process when needed."
But civil rights groups like the ACLU of Texas feel that investigation is a witch hunt. Andre Segura is their legal director.
“Given the long history of anti-immigrant policies and attempts at voter suppression by our Texas officials, we cannot trust that this investigation has been conducted in a fair and non-discriminatory manner."