Agreement Outlines Maintenance, Training Reforms for Texas County
(McALLEN, TX.) – September 18, 2018: Public Interest Legal Foundation client American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) entered a settlement agreement outlining the most comprehensive strategy to date aimed at improving the quality of voter registration records, practices, and training for Starr County, Texas (ACRU v. Rodriguez et. al. 7:16-cv-00103).
Below is a summary of action items and new maintenance strategies agreed to by the parties as outlined in the agreement:
- Deceased Voter Removals: Starr County will actively seek out evidence and investigative leads to identify deceased registered voters and remove them according to Texas and federal law. The County agrees to utilize all available databases provided by the State and institute in-house measures to review area obituaries. The ACRU agrees to offer its own research tools and techniques for identifying deceased registrants upon request at no cost.
- Processing Duplicate Registrations: Starr County agrees to accept and process potential duplicate voter registration leads from the State within 60 days of receipt. The County will determine which registration copy to maintain while discarding the other according to Texas law. The ACRU agrees to offer its own research tools and techniques for identifying duplicate registrants upon request at no cost.
- Reporting: Beginning January 2019, Starr County will provide reports to the ACRU reflecting total maintenance actions undertaken for two years for each of the aforementioned categories.
- Leveraging Jury Disqualification Data: Starr County agrees to take regular delivery of state and federal jury disqualification forms where an individual was excused from duty for reasons related to citizenship, relocation out of the county, or because the individual is deceased. Those leads will be used to initiate investigations and notices to registrants in question under Texas law. Records will be canceled upon local confirmation of circumstances.
- Accessing the National Change of Address (NCOA) Database: Starr County agrees to access the U.S. Postal Service’s NCOA program to identify registrants who potentially relocated out of the county without direct notice.
- Prompt Processing of Ineligible Registrants: Within 60 days of this settlement, Starr County will resolve all pending maintenance actions originally flagged by the State of Texas for investigation regarding potentially ineligible registrants.
- New & Improved County Procedures: Starr County agrees to collaborate with the State of Texas to develop and implement written procedures governing local list maintenance tasks.
- Enhanced Training: The Texas Secretary agrees to provide classroom training for Starr County staff.
- Payment of Fees: Starr County agrees to pay a portion of ACRU’s legal fees and costs.
The lawsuit initiated in March 2016 after the ACRU notified Starr County pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act in December 2015 that it was apparently in violation of federal maintenance standards due to implausibly high numbers of voters in contrast to U.S. Census counts of citizens in residence there. Federal and Texas data suggested that from 2010 to 2014, the rate of registration ranged from 100 to 110 percent – very much outside of the norm for other Texas counties of similar size. Before commencing litigation, the ACRU and Starr County could not find an amicable strategy for remedying alleged voter list maintenance failures.
Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act provides parties like the ACRU the right file a lawsuit when they believe a jurisdiction is falling out of compliance with federal mandates. In the event of a judgment in favor or preferred settlement agreement, plaintiffs may seek necessary legal fees in return.
Access a copy of the settlement agreement here.
The settlement agreement provides that the parties will dismiss the Plaintiff’s claims. The dismissal was entered in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, McAllen Division. The case number is 7:16-cv-00103.
Eric Wiesehan and attorneys for the Public Interest Legal Foundation represented the American Civil Rights Union for the duration of the case.
Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, the Foundation seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections.