Texas man arrested on illegal voting charges after casting ballot on parole

A Texas man who went viral on social media last year for waiting more than six hours in line to cast his ballot in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary was arrested this week under a state law that prohibits convicted felons from voting while on parole. 

Hervis Rogers, a 62-year-old Black man, was arrested and charged Wednesday with two counts of illegal voting, with bail set at $100,000, according to jail records. 

The charge, considered a second-degree felony, could lead to a sentence of anywhere from two to 20 years in prison. 

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Texas, like several other states across the country, prohibits individuals still on parole following a felony conviction from voting in elections. 

According to NPR, Rogers in 1995 was arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison for charges of burglary and intent to commit theft but was released on parole in May 2004. 

Prosecutors are arguing that because his parole was not scheduled to end until June 13, 2020, Rogers was ineligible to cast his ballot in the March 2020 presidential primary as well as in the 2018 midterm elections. 

Rogers voted in Harris County, but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) is prosecuting the case in Montgomery County, according to NBC News

In a Friday tweet, Paxton defended his office pursuing the case against Rogers, writing, “Hervis is a felon rightly barred from voting under TX law.” 

“I prosecute voter fraud everywhere we find it!” he added. 

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However, voting rights groups are condemning the arrest, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas. Both the state ACLU and attorney Nicole DeBorde Hochglaube are representing Rogers in the case. 

“The arrest and prosecution of Mr. Rogers should alarm all Texans,” Andre Segura, legal director of the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement Friday. 

“He waited in line for over six hours to vote to fulfill what he believed to be his civic duty, and is now locked up on a bail amount that most people could not afford,” Segura added. “He faces potentially decades in jail. 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 justice for Mr. Rogers and will push back against efforts to further restrict voting rights,” the legal director said. 

The charges come as two GOP-backed election bills are up for discussion in committee hearings on Saturday. Democrats say the bills will place unnecessary restrictions on voters in the state. 

The legislation would add an ID requirement for mail-in voting, ban late-night voting and impose more serious penalties for cases of voter fraud. 

Texas Senate Democrats on Friday introduced their own alternative legislation, which they say will expand voting access in the state, including allowing online voter registration and automatically registering people to vote once they receive a driver’s license.