U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ordered state officials and civil rights lawyers to meet with technology specialists in the next week to determine how long it will take Texas to comply with federal voter registration mandates, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Although Garcia ruled that Texans should be able to register to vote while renewing their driver’s license online in accordance with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act and in time for March primaries, the state has estimated it would take 90 days to implement such a system, the newspaper reported.
Currently, the Department of Public Safety website provides a link for voters to print out a voter registration form they can fill out and mail to county voter registration officials.
A lawyer for the state said at a recent hearing that it could take a year or longer to meet a provision requested by civil rights lawyers – requiring Texas to mail a preprinted voter registration form, with the person’s name, address and other data from the driver’s license, that they could sign and mail in.
The Texas Civil Rights Project said that system would comply with a Texas law that requires a valid signature on every voter form as the state works on a solution that would allow simultaneous registration, the Statesman reported.
Garcia wants both sides to file sworn declarations by Monday on proposed solutions and how long they would take. He said it is “difficult to believe” the proposed interim measure could take a year or more to implement.
The judge also told state officials to start tracking how many people click the voter registration link on the DPS website while renewing their driver’s license.
“Defendants’ decision not to track, record, or preserve such information at this juncture, after four years of litigation, is concerning,” he wrote.