San Antonio, TX – A federal court today formally restrained 13 counties named in MALDEF’s lawsuit from removing individuals from voter rolls. The court also ordered the Texas Secretary of State to similarly advise counties.

Acting on the legal technicalities of what entities are before the court as formal defendants and the limits of the authority of the Texas Secretary of State, who is responsible for the “mess” before the court, today the federal court did the following:

  • Formally ordered thirteen counties named as defendants in our suit, plus 5 unduplicated other counties named in one of the other suits, not to remove anyone from the voter registration list without prior court approval;
  • Asked the same 18 counties to advise the court whether they will voluntarily agree not to send without prior court approval any more notice of examination letters to voters; and
  • Ordered the Secretary of State to advise all Texas counties that they should neither send any more notice of examination letters, nor remove anyone from the voter registration list, without prior court approval.

Attorneys for MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) filed a request for a restraining order as part of a lawsuit challenging Texas Secretary of State David Whitley’s advisory to counties that singled out naturalized U.S. citizens for investigation and possible removal from voter rolls based solely on the fact that they were born outside the United States, in violation of their equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act.

Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF issued the following statement in response to today’s court order:

“Today’s court order plainly indicates that the state of Texas must clean up its act.  Over-the-top pronouncements of widespread voter fraud without a shred of evidence only serve to broadly deter voter participation.  Sending ominous letters to intimidate individual voters based on information known to be incomplete and faulty directly threatens democracy.  Texans can and should expect far better of statewide officials, elected and appointed, whose job involves upholding, and not undermining, constitutional democracy.”

Nina Perales, vice president of litigation for MALDEF issued the following statement in response to today’s court order:

“The judge agreed with our argument that the voter purge should be halted until he decides the important constitutional issues raised in the case. Naturalized citizens should rest easy that for now they will not receive letters challenging their right to vote. “

Read the order here