Washington: A 62-year-old Texan who waited seven hours to cast a vote while on parole is facing the threat of 40 years jail for breaking state election laws.
Hervis Earl Rogers from Houston was arrested last week and charged with two counts of illegal voting for casting a ballot in 2018 and again last year while still on parole. He could get 20 years for each. Texas is one of 16 US states where felons lose voting rights in prison and on parole.
Rogers, convicted of burglary in 1989 and 1995, became a national celebrity for queuing for so long in the Democratic primary in March 2020. He said at the time: “It is insane, but it’s worth it.” The case against him has been brought by Ken Paxton, the state’s Republican Atrorney-General and an ally of former president Donald Trump.
He was also one of several prominent Republicans who challenged President Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election and has been assiduous in pursuing alleged voting irregularity cases.
“Hervis is a felon rightly barred from voting under Texas law,” Paxton tweeted. “I prosecute voter fraud everywhere we find it!”
However, Tommy Buser-Clancy, one of the lawyers representing Rogers, said he believed he was entitled to vote.
“Mr Rogers’s prosecution really shows the danger of over criminalising the election code and the process of participating in a democratic society,” he said. “It raises the danger that criminal statutes in the election code are being used to go after individuals who at worst have made an innocent mistake. That’s not what laws should be doing.”
Texas laws stipulate that a person must knowingly vote illegally to be guilty of a crime.