East Texas elections administrators named in voter discrimination lawsuits

Plaintiffs seeking relief from ‘race and national origin related discrimination’

Video: East Texas elections administrators named in voter discrimination lawsuits

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Two federal lawsuits allege that the state and some East Texas counties discriminated against people of color and naturalized citizens by flagging some voters for a review of their citizenship.

The first case filed by the ‘Move Texas Civic Fund’ names Smith County Elections Administrator Karen Nelson and the Harrison County Elections Administrator. The Harrison County position is vacant right now after their administrator resigned last month.

Another lawsuit filed on February 2 names both Nelson and Wood County Elections Administrator Laura Wise. The plaintiffs in that suit want relief from what they say was “race and national origin-related discrimination.”

In the lawsuit, two unidentified Latina women said they were included on a list of suspected non-U.S. citizens, even though they say they are citizens. The women allege they did not register to vote until they became U.S. citizens. The women said their county’s election administrator sent them letters saying, “There is reason to believe you may not be a U.S. citizen.”

The letters threatened that if the women didn’t provide proof of citizenship within 30 days, they would be taken off the voter rolls.

Nelson told KLTV 7 last month that her staff was planning on sending letters to 297 people on that list of suspected non U.S. citizens. Smith County Spokeswoman Casey Murphy told KLTV on Wednesday, “Smith County does not comment on pending litigation.” Wood County also told KLTV 7 they will not be commenting on the lawsuit.

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