A Texas man who became a national hero after waiting seven hours in line to vote in last year’s presidential election was arrested and charged with voting illegally.
Hervis Rogers, who is black, became a symbol of a determination to have his voice heard.
“I wanted to get my vote in, express my opinion,” he told a local ABC subsidiary after his long wait to cast his vote in the 2020 election. “I did not want anything to stop me, so I waited. “
But on Wednesday, according to Houston Public Media, he was arrested and charged with two counts of illegal voting.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is reportedly bringing charges alleging that Rogers voted while parole for a 1995 conviction for burglary and intent to commit theft.
In Texas, it is illegal for anyone convicted of a crime to vote until they complete their sentence, including probation and probation. Rogers’ probation began in 2004 and was set to expire in June 2020. The drug in Texas was held in March.
Rogers cannot afford a $ 100,000 bail and is being held in jail, said Thomas Buser-Clancy, an attorney with the Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union who helps represent Rogers.
“The arrest and prosecution of Mr. Rogers was to alert all Texans. He waited in line for more than six hours to vote to fulfill what he thought was his civic duty, and is now locked in a bail amount that most people could not afford, “said Andre Segura, Texas’ legal director. ACLU, in a statement. “He is potentially facing decades in prison. Our laws should not scare people away from voting by increasing the risk of prosecution for, at worst, innocent mistakes. ”
Christopher Downey, a criminal defense attorney, told KPRC 2 Rogers’ two criminal convictions meant he could face a heavier prison sentence for the illegal fines – potentially 25 years of life for each count.
Few prosecutors have prosecuted election-related crimes more than Paxton, a Republican himself under FBI investigation into allegations of bribery, which he denies, and which filed a lengthy lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court that tried to overthrow Donald Trump’s defeat in 2020.
Even as Paxton has publicly announced the number of cases his office has been involved in, a HuffPost review in 2019 showed that most involved relatively minor violations.
His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Rogers case.
Rachel Hooper, a Republican president of Harris County, filed a formal complaint last March, saying Harris was not eligible to vote.
She obtained a copy of his application for voter registration through a request for public records, noting that he had signed a declaration stating that he had completed all punishment for a crime. The form only contains the warning in small print at the bottom of the application.
In an email to the Guardian last year, Hooper wrote: “As a former prosecutor, I want to give them the opportunity to investigate and act. As a voter, I just felt an obligation to file this complaint after hearing that Mr. Rogers was in violation of Texas electoral law. ”
Hooper provided a copy of Rogers’ probation certificate from May 2004. The document provides a lengthy description of instructions for persons who are on probation but do not say they cannot vote.
An estimated 5.2 million people cannot vote in the United States because of crimes, according to an estimate by the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit for criminal justice.
Each US state has its own rules. Maine, Vermont and the District of Columbia allow people convicted of crimes to vote while in prison. Several other states allow people convicted of crimes to vote once released. Others, like Texas, require people with crimes to complete their entire sentence before they can vote.
Such a mix of systems makes it extremely confusing and difficult for anyone with a crime to find out if they are eligible to vote.
In 2017, a Texas prosecutor made headlines for indicting criminal charges against Crystal Mason, a black woman in Fort Worth who gave a preliminary vote in 2016 while overseeing a federal crime against tax fraud.
Mason was convicted of illegal voting and sentenced to five years in prison, a sentence many considered too harsh. Probate officials admitted they had never told Mason she could not vote. Her preliminary vote eventually became innumerable. The case is pending before Texas’ highest criminal court of appeal.
Republicans in Texas and elsewhere have moved aggressively to implement new laws that make it harder to vote. The Texas Legislature launched a special session on Thursday in which it is expected to make new demands for mail-in voting and authorize biased voting monitors among other measures.