In other lawsuit-related news:
Harris County officials have rejected far fewer would-be voters since 2008, but Democrats are demanding more proof that voter rolls are not being illegally suppressed – particularly among Hispanics – as another U.S. presidential election approaches.
The two sides [met] in secret mediation Friday as Democratic officials seek assurances the county is following the terms of a 2009 settlement reached after the party challenged Harris County voter reviews in a federal lawsuit. The county’s voter registrations have remained fairly flat at about 1.9 million since 2008, failing to keep pace with a boom in the eligible voting population.
“Harris County continues to fall behind other large cities. Harris County rejects far too many applications and removes far too many eligible voters from the rolls,” Chad Dunn, an attorney for the Democrats, told the Houston Chronicle.
The Chronicle’s own analysis of voter registration data shows county officials denied about 39,000 applications in the last three years – far fewer than the 70,000 rejected as ineligible or incomplete in 2008. Of applications received in 2009 to 2011, about 14 percent were not immediately accepted. A slightly higher percentage of voters with Hispanic last names had applications denied, the Chronicle’s analysis shows.
U.S. District Court Judge Gray H. Miller, who oversees the settlement, ordered both sides to meet with a mediator Friday. If the dispute is not resolved, a hearing has been set next week.
County records show that most unsuccessful applicants from 2009-2011 -35,800 – provided incomplete information, such as leaving parts of the form blank.
As part of the 2009 settlement, Harris County officials agreed to be more flexible in reviewing voter addresses and accept those submitted from so-called commercial properties. However, about 3,000 voters’ applications apparently were red-flagged because of address-related issues in 2009-2011, according to data. In at least a few dozen cases, officials rejected valid addresses mostly from voters living in newly-built homes, the Chronicle found.
They did some good analysis of the rejected applications, so be sure to read the whole story. This action resulted from a followup complaint in 2010 by the TDP, which was itself a result of then-Tax Assessor Leo Vasquez getting in bed with the KSP. If the Tax Assessor’s office is now doing a better job of accepting valid registrations – and sorry, but I’m not going to just accept Don Sumner’s word for that – that’s great, but there’s still a long way to go before they earn any trust. PDiddie has more.