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Civil Rights Groups Sue Texas over Voter Citizenship Question

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the national ACLU, the Texas Civil Rights Project, Demos, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit against Texas Secretary of State David Whitley and Director of Elections Keith Ingram over the creation and rollout of a flawed voter purge list that discriminates against naturalized citizens.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Civil rights organizations are suing Texas officials about alleged plans to purge thousands of naturalized citizens from its voter rolls, a move that intentionally targets minority voters, according to their lawsuit.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the national ACLU, the Texas Civil Rights Project, Demos, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit against Texas Secretary of State David Whitley and Director of Elections Keith Ingram over the creation and rollout of a flawed voter purge list that discriminates against naturalized citizens.

The lawsuit also includes election officials from Galveston, Blanco, Fayette, Caldwell, and Washington counties for sending out notices threatening to cancel voter registrations based on the list, according to CBS News, which first reported the lawsuit.

“The right to vote is sacrosanct. Yet, the Texas Secretary of State has engaged in a sloppy exercise that threatens to unfairly strip people of the opportunity to participate in American democracy,” said Andre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas.

“Even after we told Texas officials that this would happen, they doubled down on this failed experiment and left us with no other recourse but to take this to court. We look forward to ensuring that all eligible Texas voters can make their voices heard on election day.”

The lawsuit claims that Texas officials created and sent a flawed advisory to counties that flagged tens of thousands of registered voters for citizenship reviews, despite knowing that the list included naturalized citizens eligible to vote.

“There is no question that Secretary Whitley released a flawed and inaccurate advisory that risks throwing thousands of eligible voters off the rolls,” said Beth Stevens, Voting Rights Legal Director with the Texas Civil Rights Project.

“Our lawsuit seeks to put the brakes on this voter suppression by rescinding the flawed advisory. Not one single eligible Texan should lose the right to vote because state officials have decided to pursue a radical anti-voter agenda.”

Whitley said his office has identified 95,000 non-citizens who are currently registered to vote in of Texas — 58,000 of whom have voted in one or more election.

Texas Secretary of State spokesman Sam Taylor says they “are very confident” the citizenship data used is current. But the organizations who have filed suit disagree.

“The Texas Secretary of State simply chose to assume the worst,” said Brendan Downes, Associate Counsel with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s Voting Rights Project.

“The idea that nearly 100,000 non-citizens knowingly and willfully registered to vote, thereby risking deportation and threatening the well-being of themselves and their families, is an absurdity.

“That assumption is now endangering the voting rights of thousands of qualified voters. It’s a hell of a welcome mat for people who have recently become citizens of this country.

“You have to question why the Secretary didn’t do more to ensure that everyone who should be on the rolls stays on the rolls.”

The case was filed on behalf of four nonprofits – MOVE Texas Civic Fund, Jolt Initiative, League of Women Voters of Texas, and NAACP of Texas, CBS reported.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are seeking that the court declare that the Secretary of State’s advisory violates the United States Constitution and the Voting Rights Act and that it block all Texas counties from sending notices to individuals requiring them to prove their citizenship on the basis of the purge list, or from removing any registered voter from the voter rolls based on a failure to respond to such letters.

“This exercise is a thinly veiled attempt to advance the voter fraud myth to justify restrictive voter requirements and suppress voting rights,” said Sophia Lakin, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

“We’re suing Texas for rolling out this error-ridden voter purge program that unlawfully targets and threatens the voting rights of eligible and duly registered naturalized citizens.”

Commentary

Commentary: May Is Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month

AANHPI is not a social term; it’s purely political, a Frankenstein acronym that reeks of inclusion, and yet there’s so much more of us we don’t see in the name. In fact, the top three groups are Chinese, Indian and Filipino. We’re “Chindipinos.” It makes AANHPI more like a prompt to make sure we don’t forget the incredible potential of our large, diverse community.

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By Emil Guillermo

AANHPI is not a social term; it’s purely political, a Frankenstein acronym that reeks of inclusion, and yet there’s so much more of us we don’t see in the name. In fact, the top three groups are Chinese, Indian and Filipino. We’re “Chindipinos.”

It makes AANHPI more like a prompt to make sure we don’t forget the incredible potential of our large, diverse community.

Across the United States, we’re more than 25 million strong. As I like to point out, it really should include West Asians, like Arab Americans, at around 5 million people. That would boost the group to around 30 million- plus.

How can U.S. policy makers ignore a coalition of 30 million people that have all of Asia as their common ground? They can’t.

Unless we don’t vote.

THE AANHPI POWER YEAR

Around 15 million Asian Americans are projected to be eligible to vote in 2024. This is an increase of 15% from 2020, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s a larger projected increase than for Hispanics (12%) and Blacks (7%).

A lot of talk this year has centered so far on Black and Hispanic voters defecting from the Democrats in 2024. There’s hardly any talk about the Asian American vote. But any change there could be significant.

Seventy-two percent of English-speaking, single race, non-Hispanic Asian voters went for Joe Biden in 2020 vs. 28% who voted for Donald Trump, according to Pew.

Will we see Asian Americans continue to show up for Biden at the 72%level, or will that number erode?

Hopefully, Biden’s Asian American numbers may go higher if the Republican voters in our broad community (around 30%) understand what’s at stake and abandon Trump.

The list of Biden White House initiatives to help Asian Americans is long.

On the other hand, think about how Donald Trump treated his lone Asian American cabinet member, Elaine Chao, and see if that isn’t reason alone for MAGA-AANHPIs to dump Trump, the indicted one.

Here are some other key things about Asian American eligible voters that are worth noting.

We’re 6% of the electorate, which means as a bloc, it has the potential to be a real swing vote.

When you see poll numbers at a dead heat with the margin of error at 3-5%, imagine Asian Americans making up the difference to provide a margin of victory.

That’s how critical our vote is.

Gender-wise, the demographic breakdown is also significant: 53% women and 47% men. Which party has women’s best interests at heart?

By age, 22% of us are 18-29 years old. The biggest demo is 30-49 at 36%. Add ages 50-64 at 23%, and the core 30-64 working age demo is almost 60% of our community.

The majority of us are also naturalized citizens, 56%, vs. U.S born at 44%.

For me this is always where I see some of the biggest fissures within our community. Who was pushing for affirmative action and who was against? Naturalized citizens, immigrants generally led the fight against affirmative action. It remains a flash point. Might it also define a new dividing line between Asian American red and blue?

So, this month, AANHPI Heritage Month, take the time to notice and get to know us better.

About the Author

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator, and was the first Filipino to host a national news program while at NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Contact him at www.amok.com.

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Oakland Post: Week of May 15 – 21, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of May May 15 – 21, 2024

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