Texas GOP rejects TEXIT ballot petition

The Republican Party of Texas rejected a petition to place the question of Texas secession on the 2024 primary ballot — and the group behind the effort has promised a lawsuit.

The Texas Nationalist Movement — the foremost supporters of the idea referred to as “TEXIT” — turned in over 139,000 signatures earlier this month on the filing deadline with the question, “Should the State of Texas reassert its status as an independent nation?” 

While statewide ballot propositions to amend the Texas Constitution must first go through the Legislature, state code allows non-binding propositions on issue questions to be placed on primary ballots of either party through petition.

To place an item on the ballot, 97,709 valid signatures of registered voters in the state must be collected and turned in. TNM turned in a total more than 40 percent above the line, but close to half were deemed invalid by the party for various errors.

In a letter to TNM President Daniel Miller, Texas GOP Chair Matt Rinaldi informed the group of the ruling, listing out various reasons for the rejection.

Among them include a statement that the petition was untimely submitted, delivered on the filing deadline rather than the day before; a lack of information such as addresses and dates of birth on the forms; and the use of electronic circulation rather than handwritten ink.

“The vast majority of petition signatures were invalid,” Rinaldi wrote. “A number of the signatures omitted one or all of the residence address, county of registration, and date of birth/voter registration number. Many contained invalid voter names. Only an estimated 8,300 of the purported 139,000 signatures were in the petition signer’s own handwriting. The remainder of the signatures submitted were electronic.”

“For these reasons, the voter petitions delivered by the Texas Nationalist Movement on December 11 are rejected as untimely and, even if they had been timely submitted, do not contain the required 97,709 valid signatures to place a matter on the 2024 Republican Primary ballot.”

Many of the petitions were circulated through DocuSign, an electronic paperwork service that allows legal documents to be signed online. TNM says that method is sufficient, but the party has ruled otherwise.

Either sensing the imminent rejection, or perhaps due to the length of time between the petition’s submission and news from the party, TNM unknowingly preempted the RPT’s decision on Wednesday with an announcement from its board of directors authorizing legal action against the party.

TNM said that no lawsuit had yet been filed, but that the group intended to pursue the route.

The resolution reads: “WHEREAS, the Republican Party of Texas has failed to acknowledge or act upon these submitted petition signatures in accordance with the stipulations of the Texas Election Code…NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Directors of the Texas Nationalist Movement hereby authorizes the initiation of legal action against the Republican Party of Texas to ensure the proper consideration and inclusion of the [TEXIT] question on the March 2024 Republican Primary ballot.”

A follow-up response from TNM to the Texas GOP’s ruling reiterates the group’s intention to sue, objecting to both the objections of timeliness and its electronic circulation method; TNM’s letter cites a section of the Texas Business & Commerce Code that reads, “If a law requires a signature, an electronic signature satisfies the law.”

Section 277.002 of the Texas Election Code reads in part, “The signature is the only information that is required to appear on the petition in the signer's own handwriting.”

TNM contends that those signatures in question were handwritten by way of an electronic pen on DocuSign, while the party asserts that it must be a “wet” signature with real ink.

Those and other assertions on both sides will have to be meted out in court, though for now there will be no TEXIT proposition on the ballot.

Before the filing deadline, the TEXIT petition was among the pillars of a particularly chaotic State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) meeting; the Texas GOP’s governing body chose not to advance the TEXIT item as one of its 10 ballot questions for 2024.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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