AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Houston man who received widespread
attention after standing six hours in line to cast a ballot in the 2020
Democratic presidential primary was in jail Friday on charges that it was
illegal for him to vote at all because he was on parole.
Hervis Rogers became an overnight face of Texas' battle over
voting access when he emerged from a polling center at a historically Black
college around 1:30 a.m. He was among Houston voters on Super Tuesday who
waited more than an hour — and some for several hours — in mostly minority,
Democratic neighborhoods. Lines in mostly white, Republican neighborhoods were
“The way it was set up, it was like it was set up for me to
walk away,” Rogers told reporters in comments carried by multiple news outlets,
including The Associated Press.
He was arrested this week on two counts of illegal voting, a
second-degree felony that carries a possible sentence of two to 20 years in
prison. His bail was set at $100,000.
Rogers, 62, voted last March while still on parole from a
felony burglary conviction, making him ineligible to cast a ballot under Texas
law. Andre Segura, an attorney for the ACLU of Texas who is representing
Rogers, said his client did not know he was ineligible to vote. He drew
comparisons to Crystal Mason, a Fort Worth woman who was sentenced to five
years in prison for casting a provisional ballot while on probation in 2016,
who also said she was unaware she could not.
“Mr. Rogers made headlines after waiting hours for what he
thought was his civic duty, and was very proud of that," Segura said.
"We shouldn't be prosecuting people for innocent mistakes.”
The rare arrest on illegal voting allegations comes as Texas
Republicans begin a second attempt at passing many of the same restrictive
voting measures blocked by Democrats during a dramatic late-night walkout in
May. Texas is the biggest state where Republicans have vowed to make voting
changes since Donald Trump’s false claims that fraud cost him the 2020
Courts records show Rogers is being prosecuted by the office
of Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has zealously pursued
election fraud cases and last year took a failed attempt to overturn President
Joe Biden's victory to the U.S. Supreme Court. His spokesman did not
immediately respond to a message about Roger's indictment.
In March 2020, Rogers said he was among the last people
allowed in line before polls closed at 7 p.m. at Texas Southern University.
Photos of voters waiting in long lines on the Houston campus appeared on news
websites and ricocheted around social media. Rogers said he considered leaving
but told reporters that “every vote counts.”
Elections officials in Houston blamed the long lines on the
local Republican Party’s refusal to hold a joint primary with the Democrats.
GOP leaders accused the county of trying to shift the blame, saying county
officials who allocated both parties an equal number of voting machines
disregarded warnings about turnout for the hotly contested Democratic
As soon as Saturday, Texas Republicans could begin advancing
their revived election bills at the state Capitol. One provision would require
courts to explain to defendants how a felony convictions impacts their right to
vote, a change Democratic state Rep. John Bucy has pushed in the aftermath of
“Intent is vital,” Bucy said. “We've got to really keep
pushing back on these bills, because a lot of what they're trying to do could