The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity bought close to 50 million records from Texas, checking a box on request forms asking for “Hispanic surname flag notation” to be included in the information, newly released documents showed. The requested lists included names of active voters, names of voters with canceled registrations, names of voters with outdated or incorrect addresses on file, and the names of voters in general elections from 2006 to 2016.
A lawsuit filed by state voting rights advocates blocked the Texas voter data from ever being sent to the White House.
Texas officials identify voters with Hispanic names in order to comply with laws requiring bilingual election notices to Spanish speakers, a Texas spokesman told the Post. About one-quarter of the Texas voting population—36 million people—have Hispanic last names.
The Trump administration disbanded the voting commission on Jan. 3, citing lawsuits and states’ unwillingness to hand over voter information. The group was formed after Trump’s repeated claims that millions of people voting illegally in the 2016 election lost him the popular vote, despite studies and state officials finding no evidence of widespread voting fraud.
From its start, the commission was shrouded by fears that it would target poor and minority voters. But an anonymous White House official said that the committee “asked to identify Hispanic surnames to resolve data discrepancies or confusion caused by the traditional Spanish naming convention that uses the surnames of both parents,” according to the Post.
“There was never a request made to flag people based on their ethnicity,” the official said. “That was never asked for, nor is that what this [Texas] response is saying, though I can see why some could read it that way.”
The voting commission still faces lawsuits from at least 10 other advocacy groups that want to know what kind of data the panel gathered and what it did with that data.