President Donald Trump's election fraud commission singled out voters who may be Hispanic for extra scrutiny in at least one state.
The now-defunct panel asked every state and the District of Columbia for detailed voter registration data, but commissioners asked Texas officials to hand over records that identified all voters with Hispanic surnames, reported the Washington Post.
Ronald Williams II, a researcher for the White House panel, checked a box on two Texas public voter data request forms asking for "Hispanic surname flag notation" to be included among 50 million records sought from the state, according to signed and notarized documents.
The Texas data was never delivered because voting rights advocates filed a lawsuit that delayed the transfer, and the White House dissolved the commission Jan. 3 after multiple state and federal lawsuits were filed.
Civil rights advocates say the commission's efforts would likely target black and Latino voters, and elected officials said the panel undermined privacy, state election oversight and voting rights.
Texas has identified voters with Hispanic surnames since 1983 so the state can mail bilingual election notices in Spanish and English as required under state and federal laws.
A spokesman for the Texas secretary of state said the names are selected from the U.S. Census Bureau’s list of most common surnames by race and Hispanic origin.
The White House commission, which was chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, paid Texas officials about $3,500 on Sept. 22 for 49.6 million records dating back to 2006.
Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and the commission's vice chairman, said the request came as a "complete surprise" to him and wouldn't have advanced the panel's inquiry.
“I don’t know what sort of data analysis you would do even remotely relevant to it, but also having just one state (would be) useless," Kobach said. "It just doesn’t make any sense.”