Texas’ new Secretary of State may want to go out of her way on voting rights

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On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Ruth Ruggero Hughs as Secretary of State of Texas to serve as the chief elections officer for Texas. Previously, Hughs chaired the Texas Workforce Commission. 

“Under Ruth’s leadership, we will continue to build the Texas brand on the international stage and uphold the integrity of our elections,” Abbott said in a statement announcing her appointment. Hughs is a member of the State Bar of Texas.

That brand when it comes to election integrity was tarnished by the prior secretary of state, David Whitley, who oversaw the largest attempted voter purge in Texas history. 

Whitley made headlines only weeks into his tenure after he sent out an incorrect press release in January warning of 95,000 “Possible Non-U.S. Citizens” that were registered to vote. It was later revealed that thousands of names on the list were actually citizens, threatening their right to vote based on outdated information.

The botched voter purge drew the ire of multiple civil rights groups who sued the office, eventually leading to a settlement with Whitley’s office that effectively ended the attempted voter purge.

The San Antonio Express-News reported in June that Abbott’s office knew about the attempted purge voters from the voter rolls.

“Incoming Secretary of State Hughs would be wise to avoid any requests by Republican Governor Greg Abbott to suppress the vote,” Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Manny Garcia said in a statement. “While we remain hopeful Secretary of State Hughs will protect and expand the vote in Texas, we will be observing the Republican establishment’s actions very closely.”

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