Ellis Asks for Secretary of State for Data on Voter ID


(Austin, Texas)//Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today sent the following letter to the Texas Secretary of State regarding demographic data and Voter ID.

October 27, 2011

Ms. Ann McGeehan
Director or Elections
Texas Secretary of State
Texas Capitol, Room 1E.8
Austin, Texas 78701

Dear Ms. McGeehan:

Yesterday, I received a letter dated October 21, 2011 from Dr. Lloyd Potter, the Texas State Demographer. In the letter, Dr. Potter stated that he had recently met with the Secretary of State (SOS) and her staff to discuss my October 10, 2011 letters requesting that the State Demographer’s office perform an additional analysis of voter registration data so that the state may fully comply with a September 23, 2011 request from the Department of Justice (DOJ) for additional information regarding SB 14 (82nd Legislature).

As you recall, part of the DOJ’s September 23 request was for “[t]he number of registered voters in Texas, by race and by Spanish surname within county of residence, who currently possess a Texas driver’s license or other form of photo identification issued by [the Department of Public Safety] that is current or has expired within sixty days.” Furthermore, the DOJ requested, “[f]or the 605,576 registered voters who the State has advised do not have a Texas driver’s license or personal identification card, … the number of such person by Spanish surname, as well as an estimated number by race, within county of residence.” As you also recall, your office’s October 4, 2011 response to the DOJ did not provide the federal agency with the requested breakdown by race.

Dr. Potter’s letter, which is attached for your review, states that he understands the SOS is “working to be responsive to the Department of Justice’s request.” Additionally, he understands “that the Secretary will be communicating with [Sen. Ellis] about the specifics of how they will be responding.”

This is very encouraging to hear. I was initially concerned that your office would be unwilling to work with the State Demographer’s office in order to fully comply with the DOJ’s request. But the information I received yesterday — specifically that your office is working to be fully responsive to the DOJ’s request outlined above — is indeed promising.

Regarding your efforts to fully comply with the DOJ’s request, I thus have the following questions:

* What is the source of the data that will allow you to fully comply with the DOJ’s request, specifically as it relates to the requested breakdown by race?
* How does this data differ from what your office used to develop your October 4, 2011 response?
* Why was this data not used in your October 4, 2011 response?
* Will your follow-up response to the DOJ thus include the requested breakdown by race, as called for in the DOJ’s September 23, 2011 letter?

Given the short timelines associated with preclearance of SB 14, I ask that your office respond to this letter via a written response no later than November 2, 2011.


Rodney Ellis


CC: Mr. T. Christian Herren, Jr.
Chief, Voting Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice


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