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Texas Secretary Of State Announces 'Widespread Voter Fraud' In 2018

AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - Texas Secretary of State David Whitley announced on Friday the results of a year-long investigation into voter fraud.

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.

Texas Democratic lawmakers also urged caution, including Dallas state Rep. Rafael Anchia, who said "because we have consistently seen Texas politicians conjure the specter of voter fraud as pretext to suppress legitimate votes, we are naturally skeptical."

Texas in recent years has aggressively prosecuted voter fraud cases and has one of the nation's toughest voter ID laws.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued the following statement on the matter:

"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. We have obtained a number of successful non-citizen voter fraud convictions, including prison sentences for Rosa Ortega in Tarrant County and Laura Garza in Montgomery County. And earlier this month, investigators from our office arrested Marites Curry, a non-citizen charged with illegal voting in Navarro County. Nothing is more vital to preserving our Constitution than the integrity of our voting process, and my office will do everything within its abilities to solidify trust in every election in the state of Texas. I applaud Secretary of State Whitley for his proactive work in safeguarding our elections."

According to the Texas Attorney General's office, Texas law allows lawfully present noncitizens to obtain driver's licenses by showing proof of lawful presence to DPS. However, only citizens are eligible to vote. And Texas law currently does not require verification of a voter's statement that they are a citizen. The Texas Secretary of State provided the information to the Office of the Attorney General this week, which has concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute election crimes.

Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey commented:

"We applaud the efforts by the office of the Texas Secretary of State to expose this widespread voter fraud. Secretary of State David Whitley's announcement provides undeniable proof that voter fraud has been significant - even in Texas. Identifying ineligible registrations and removing them from the voter rolls is the first step toward restoring integrity to our electoral process. No doubt these voters affected election results in 2018. We can not afford voter fraud in 2020 and must stop this abuse now. It is a crime and it is damaging to our republic. We ask the Legislature to consider what additional changes may be needed to reduce potential voter fraud and protect the right to vote for all Texas citizens."

The Republican Party of Texas said it will continue to work with legislators during the 86th Legislative Session "to create and pass legislation to secure the ballot box."

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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