What’s wrong with our Texas Secretary of State?

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It’s looking like good old-fashioned incompetence.

For the second time this year, the Texas Secretary of State – the office handling the integrity of our voting process – incorrectly placed names of legal voters onto the ineligible voter list. On Monday the office admitted it made an error, apparently because of a technical glitch.

Several weeks ago the SOS’s office – again wrongly – put the names of 98,000 people onto the ineligible voter list because they were supposedly noncitizens. Turns out about 25,000 of those names should not have been on the list. (Half of these were naturalized citizens – who can vote.) Only 80 were legit names who were ineligible to vote.

A federal judge has blocked the removal of any voter from the rolls.

“The Court further finds and concludes the Secretary of State, though perhaps unintentionally, created this mess,” the judge wrote. “As Robert Fulghum taught in All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, ‘always put things back where we found them and clean [ ] up our own messes.’”

No one disputes the egregious errors. And everyone is pointing fingers at someone else.

Despite his semi-apology and nothing-but-smiles Twitter fare, the Acting Secretary of State, Republican David Whitley, is not taking full responsibility – either for plain incompetence or the darker possibility: he intentionally toyed with our election system.

Either way, the buck stops with him.

Whitley’s confirmation process – to determine if he has the job on a permanent basis – must be complete by the end of May. He needs a two thirds vote of the Texas Senate. The 12 Democrats in that chamber have indicated they would be a “no” vote, enough to torpedo his nomination.

No Republicans have publicly opposed his nomination.

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