Texas elections officials have joined a growing number of states seeking access to a massive immigration database to check voter rolls for possible noncitizens, reported the Houston Chronicle.
Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade sent a letter to Homeland Security Department Secretary Janet Napolitano requesting access to the federal database, which contains more than 100 million immigration records, according to the Dallas Observer.
Andrade, an appointee of Gov. Rick Perry, is the latest of roughly a dozen GOP elections leaders from across the country to seek the information after the Homeland Security Department granted Florida officials permission last week after a long fight.
Texas officials and the U.S. Justice Department already are embroiled in a court battle over a state law passed last year that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls.
For months, the Obama administration resisted granting Florida access to the database, but it relented after a judge ruled in the state’s favor on a separate issue related to its efforts to purge noncitizens from its voting rolls.
But opponents of the move argue that the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program, also known as SAVE, was intended for use by government agencies verifying the immigration status of applicants for benefits and licenses, not to purge voter rolls.
The scope of voter fraud, nationally and in Texas, remains a key point of contention over states’ efforts to cleanse voter rolls.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott argues the law and cross-checking the database is needed to reduce voter fraud, while Democrats say it will do nothing more than make it harder for minorities and the elderly to vote.
“It is absolutely essential that the state have every tool available to uphold the integrity of our elections process,” said Rick Perry’s spokeswoman Catherine Frazier to the San Antonio Express-News.