Days later, however, The Texan broke the news that Rogers was not eligible to vote since he was a convicted felon still on parole.
Under Texas Election Law, (Sec. 11.002) convicted felons are not eligible to vote until the convicted has “fully discharged the person’s sentence, including any term of incarceration, parole, or supervision, or completed a period of probation ordered by any court.”
Rogers has a lengthy criminal history dating back to at least 1986 but had obtained release on parole for a 1995 second-degree felony conviction for burglary.
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Rogers’ parole extended to June 13, 2020. In 2016, however, he signed and submitted a voter registration card swearing that he was not finally convicted or on parole at the time.
According to records from Harris County, Rogers voted both in the 2018 general elections and in the March 2020 primary, prompting an official complaint to the Texas attorney general’s office in 2020.
Last Wednesday, Rogers was arrested in Houston and booked into the Montgomery County jail. The attorney general’s office has charged him with two counts of illegal voting, and his total bail is set at $100,000.
In March of 2020, Rogers was hailed as a hero by local and national media for waiting in line until nearly 1:30 a.m. to cast his ballot. At the time, Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman (D) blamed long lines for the Democrat primary election at TSU on the Harris County Republican Party’s refusal to hold a joint primary election with Democrats. Under a joint primary, Trautman said the parties could have shared electronic voting machines.
Harris County Republicans, however, disputed Trautman’s account, saying the party had warned the county clerk that it would be better to allocate machines based on expected turnout, and that while the GOP had only requested 2,319 voting machines, the county had sent them 4,147 to be used in the Republican primary.
Rogers’ arrest came just a day before the beginning of the special session of the Texas Legislature during which lawmakers will consider election integrity legislation. Proposed legislation would require the secretary of state to compare the statewide voter registration list with data maintained by the Department of Public Safety for the purpose of verifying citizenship status, but the language does not specifically call for verification of conviction or parole status.
Harris County has repeatedly come under scrutiny for not properly vetting voter registrations, and the Public Interest Legal Foundation last year filed a federal lawsuit seeking a court order for the county to challenge or reject all future voter registrations that do not claim the applicant is a citizen of the United States.
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Holly Hansen is a regional reporter for The Texan living in Harris County. Her former column, “All In Perspective” ran in The Georgetown Advocate, Jarrell Star Ledger, and The Hill Country News, and she has contributed to a variety of Texas digital media outlets. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida with a degree in History, and in addition to writing about politics and policy, also writes about faith and culture.