TX Counties Rejected More Than 2,400 Voter Registration Applications in 2018, Claiming They Lacked the Required “Wet” or Original Signature – Inconsistent with Other State Policies that Allow Voters to Use Electronic Signatures
Unlawful, Arbitrary, and Inconsistent Electronic Signature Ban Makes it Harder for Texans to Participate in Elections
Austin, TX — The Texas Democratic Party, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee today filed a lawsuit challenging an unconstitutional electronic signature ban the Secretary of State created to urge counties to reject thousands of voter registration applications, making it harder for Texas to participate in elections.
In 2018, the Texas Secretary of State urged counties to reject thousands of voter registration forms with electronic or imaged signatures, claiming they lacked the required “wet” or original signatures. However, that electronic signature ban is inconsistent with Texas’s other state policies that allow voters to use electronic signatures to register to vote and is inconsistent with a federal court ruling that found no “legal impediment” to using electronic signatures.
The unconstitutional rule and its arbitrary use mean Texans do not have clear guidance on the application process, making it harder to register voters and for voters to participate in elections. Additionally, the electronic signature ban makes registering to vote even more difficult for Texans in rural communities without access to regular mailing service, and placed new barriers to voters who may need assistance returning their voter registration application.
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“For years, Texas Republicans have used every trick possible to make it harder for Texans to vote and to steal elections away from the rising Texas electorate.
“Republicans know Texas is changing, that’s why they continue to enact arbitrary rulings such as banning lawful electronic signatures. Texas Democrats will always fight to protect and expand the vote. That’s why today, as part of our efforts to build the largest voter protection program in state history, the Texas Democratic Party are joining our partners at the DSCC and DCCC to end this unconstitutional and inconsistent law that disproportionately harms rural voters who don’t have access to regular mail service.
“Democracy thrives when everyone participates. We thank the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for partnering with us and working to end this heinous assault to one of our most sacred rights.”
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto issued the following statement:
“Registering to vote should be clear and easy but the electronic signature ban makes it harder for Texans to participate in elections – and we will not let that stand,” said “This challenge and the series of others we’ve taken to end burdens in our voting process reflect our commitment to making sure Texans can make their voices heard.”
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Rep. Cheri Bustos issued the following statement:
“States should be working to make voting more accessible, not less. As the Chairwoman of House Democrats’ campaign arm, I am committed to taking on laws that place barriers to the ballot for voters. The reality is Texas’ electronic signature ban does not protect the vote; it only makes it harder for people, particularly folks in rural communities, to register to vote and make their voices heard. This unconstitutional ban does not make an ounce of sense, and it is the kind of arbitrary voter suppression that we’re working to tear down right now before even more harm is done to our Democracy.”
As part of a commitment to protect the integrity of elections across the country, Democrats have taken a series of legal actions in Texas. In October, Texas Democrats with the DSCC and DCCC filed a lawsuit against Texas’ ban on “mobile” early voting sites that serve voters living near colleges and universities, and those without reliable access to transportation. In November, the same organizations challenged unconstitutional ballot order statutes in three battleground states – including Texas. Democrats secured a victory on a similar case in Florida, where the court confirmed the law requiring ballots list Republican candidates first gives GOP candidates an unfair advantage.
Texas Democrats will never stop fighting back against all Republican attempts to suppress the vote. We won against David Whitley, we are in court to reverse the ban on mobile voting, and we will not stand any Republican attempt to make voting more difficult for every eligible Texan.