arrested and charged Hervis Rogers, a 62-year-old Black
man whose story of perseverance in the face of voter suppression
efforts went viral
during the 2020 presidential primaries.
Rogers faces two felony counts of illegal voting for casting ballots before completing his parole
for a previous crime
, which is set to expire on June 13, 2020. According to Texas election code, people
who receive felony convictions can vote only after they have completed their sentence, including parole, and they can be found guilty of a crime if they vote illegally.
Rogers gained notoriety last March when he was the last person to vote at a Texas precinct where he had waited seven hours. Rogers was widely praised for his commitment to voting despite the ongoing racism
embedded in Texas elections, in which officials routinely overburden and under-resource precincts serving Black communities.
Rogers' attorney, Andre Segura, said after his arrest last week that Rogers was unaware he was ineligible to vote and that his prosecution should raise questions.
“The arrest and prosecution of Mr. Rogers should alarm all Texans
,” said Segura, a lawyer with the Texas ACLU
branch. “Our laws should not intimidate people from voting by increasing the risk of prosecution for, at worst, innocent mistakes. We will continue to fight for Mr. Rogers’ justice and will oppose efforts to further restrict voting rights
Rick Perry vetoed a bill in 2007 that would have required law enforcement
officials to notify people charged with crimes when they became eligible to vote.
Rogers' arrest is reminiscent of the case of Crystal Mason, a Black Texan who was arrested following the 2016 election
after casting a provisional ballot while ineligible to vote. The now-46-year-old woman claimed she was unaware of her ineligibility, and her case is currently being appealed before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Rogers was being held in jail
on a $100,000 bond until he received bail assistance from The Bail Project, a nonprofit organization that helps people charged with crimes who have low incomes.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
, who is currently under investigation
by the Texas State Bar for filing an unsuccessful lawsuit
to overturn the 2020 election
, tweeted that his office would prosecute Rogers. Paxton is one of the most prominent figures to support Donald Trump
's claims that widespread voter fraud
in Black and brown communities cost Trump the 2020 election.
across the country have worked more feverishly than usual to restrict ballot access ahead of the 2022 elections
, with Texas Republicans
hoping to enact some of the most restrictive voting measures in the country, out of the hundreds that have been introduced since November.
On Thursday, one day after Rogers' arrest, Texas Republicans called a special session to push their voter suppression package, which includes strict, new identification requirements for voting by mail, a ban on 24-hour and drive-thru voting, a ban on officials sending unrequested absentee ballots, and expanded protections for partisan poll watchers to surveil citizens.
In Texas, there is a long history
of violent voter suppression by poll watchers, and there is growing concern that vigilantes will be empowered to act on anti-democratic rhetoric about who should be allowed to vote.