President Trump’s voting commission asked every state and the District for detailed voter registration data, but in Texas’s case it took an additional step: It asked to see Texas records that identify all voters with Hispanic surnames, newly released documents show.
In buying nearly 50 million records from the state with the nation’s second-largest Hispanic population, a researcher for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity checked a box on two Texas public voter data request forms explicitly asking for the “Hispanic surname flag notation,” to be included in information sent to the voting commission, according to copies of the signed and notarized state forms.
White House and Texas officials said the state’s voter data was never delivered because a lawsuit brought by Texas voting rights advocates after the request last year temporarily stopped any data handoff.
The voting commission was disbanded Jan. 3 after Trump cited a host of ongoing state and federal lawsuits and resistance from state officials over the sweeping pursuit, in the name of investigating alleged voter fraud, of information about more than 150 million voters across the country. The voting panel said it would destroy all voter data it had gathered, without detailing any data purchases.
Civil and voting rights groups in particular have said the nationwide initiative could establish a pretext to target African American and Latino voters. State officials criticized the project for its potential effect on Americans’ privacy, state oversight on elections and voter participation.
Texas since 1983 has identified voters with a Hispanic name to mail bilingual election notices in Spanish and English as required by state and federal laws, said Sam Taylor, spokesman for Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos (R). Names are selected from the U.S. Census Bureau’s list of most common surnames by race and Hispanic origin, Taylor said.