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Texas Supreme Court won't take up secessionist push to get ‘Texit’ measure on GOP primary ballots

Gabriel C. Pérez

The Texas Supreme Court has denied a secessionist group’s request to intervene after Republican Party officials rejected a ballot measure asking if Texas should leave the U.S.

In an emergency petition filed Wednesday, the Texas Nationalist Movement argued state GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi “had no discretion” to reject the more than 139,000 voter signatures the group collected to get the question on the primary ballot. The TNM also requested the court compel Rinaldi to accept the voter petition.

The court quickly denied to take up the group’s filing.

“While we’re disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision, this is not the end of the matter,” TNM president Daniel Miller told KERA. “We will fight to see that the law is honored and that Texans have a say on their fundamental right of self-government.”

Last month, the TNM submitted what it says was the the necessary signatures to add the “Texit” question — asking “The State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation. For or against” — to the primary ballot. Under state law, the minimum number of signatures “that must appear on the petition is five percent of the total vote received by all candidates for governor in the party's most recent gubernatorial general primary election.”

But state party leaders said in an open letter to the group that it submitted the signatures after the deadline, and that some of the signatures were invalid because they were submitted electronically. In its court filing, TNM argued the signatures are admissible under the Texas Uniform Electronic Transactions Act.

Rinaldi said in a statement to KERA that that argument could have implications on the state’s election code, including voter registration and mail-in ballot applications.

“The Texas Nationalist Movement is trying to eliminate Texas’s strong election integrity protections by asserting electronic signatures should be valid on petitions, voter registration, and mail-in ballots,” Rinaldi said. “This type of policy opens Texas up to the massive election fraud that cost President Trump his re-election, and the Texas GOP will not stand for it.”

But Miller told KERA there’s no connection.

“His idea that what we're doing endangers voter registration in any shape, form or fashion is just a lie,” Miller said.

Last month, a federal appeals court upheld a 2021 Texas election security law requiring “wet,” or handwritten, signatures for voter registrations.

Speaking before the state Supreme Court's decision Wednesday afternoon, Miller told KERA the filing was the first in a series of planned legal actions to “fight for every single one of those people that signed that petition so that their voices can be heard.”

“I’m not at liberty to discuss what that is,” Miller said. “But the Supreme Court filing is not the end of this by any stretch of the imagination.”

More than a dozen other measures are on the Republican primary ballot, including whether Texas should create a border protection unit and whether the party should have closed primaries. The election is on March 5.

Juan Salinas II is a KERA news intern. Got a tip? Email Juan at jsalinas@kera.org. You can follow Juan on X @4nsmiley

Copyright 2024 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Juan Salinas II