On Sept. 20, the federal district judge who oversaw the August agreement denied a pleafrom the NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and Dallas and Hidalgo counties claiming Harris County clerk Stan Stanart and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton were effectively intimidating voters by publicly suggesting that people who filed affidavits could be criminally prosecuted if it turned out they’d been issued driver’s licenses or other IDs in the past. “If you sign that affidavit and you lie about not being able to get a photo ID, you can be prosecuted for perjury,” Paxton told Fox News on Aug. 18.
The judge’s ruling was a victory for Stanart, an active member of the state Republican Party whose campaign website touts him as “the proven conservative leader.” Harris County, which covers Houston, is the biggest in Texas and third-largest in the U.S., with a population the size of Kentucky. Early voting in Texas starts on Oct. 24.
Stanart says he’s already compared lists of registered voters against state driver’s license records so that his staff will be prepared to spot any affidavits filed by people who should have had appropriate ID. “If we suspect that they’re doing it intentionally and doing it for fraudulent purposes, I’m going to be inclined to turn them over to the DA,” says Stanart, who worked in the county tax office before he was elected county clerk in 2010. “We will have chaos if we don’t have people that are willing to follow the law.”