Fact Check: Have millions of Texans registered to vote without photo ID this year? 

In an April 2 post on X (formerly Twitter) that received 56,000 likes and attention from both Elon Musk and former President Donald Trump, an account named @EndWokeness claimed that 1,250,710 voters registered without a photo ID in Texas since the start of 2024.  

This claim is blatantly false and has been refuted by Texas Secretary of State Jane Nelson, a Republican. 

“It is totally inaccurate that 1.2 million voters have registered to vote in Texas without a photo ID this year. The truth is our voter rolls have increased by 57,711 voters since the beginning of 2024. This is less than the number of people registered in the same timeframe in 2022 (about 65,000) and in 2020 (about 104,000),” Nelson said in a statement. 

Even Attorney General Ken Paxton, who supported Trump’s efforts to challenge the 2020 election results, has refuted this misinformation by sharing Nelson’s statement on X. 

The @EndWokeness account misrepresented data from the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Help America Vote Verification (HAVV) system, which tracks requests by states to verify the identity of individuals who registered to vote using the last four digits of their Social Security number (SSN). The figures cited do not represent new voter registrations but rather the total number of verification requests made by the states. 

An Associated Press fact-check cited a 2010 audit report published by the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General which found that states often submit the same voter information multiple times in a year (32% of all requests in 2008 and 20% in 2009). For example, in 2008, Ohio “submitted the same voter information 1,778 times during the year for a 77-year-old man who died in December 2005.” Over the course of 11 days in 2008, Ohio submitted verification requests for the same deceased individual between 1 and 278 times per day. The following year, the state made 13,824 verification requests for the same voter. 

Nelson clarified the voter registration process in Texas: “When Texans register to vote, they must provide a driver license number or a Social Security number (SSN). When an individual registers to vote with just a SSN, the state verifies that the SSN is authentic.” 

When registering to vote, individuals must affirm their U.S. citizenship under penalty of perjury, though they are not required to provide proof of citizenship to vote in federal elections. Only U.S. citizens can vote in federal, state, and most local elections, and states have multiple systems in place to prevent non-citizen voting, which is “vanishingly rare.” A 1996 federal law states that noncitizens who vote illegally will face a fine, imprisonment, or both, and they may also face deportation if caught. 

While federal law allows individuals the option to register to vote without a photo ID, most voters register using their driver’s license or state ID number, and Texas voters are required to show proof of ID when casting their ballot. If a voter does not have an acceptable form of photo ID, they can still vote by signing a Reasonable Impediment Declaration and providing a supporting form of identification, like a utility bill or bank statement. 

“The 1.2 million figure comes from the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) website, which is supposed to report the number of times states have asked to verify an individual’s social security number. The SSA number is clearly incorrect, and we are working now to determine why there is such a large discrepancy,” Nelson explained. 

Election officials in Arizona and Pennsylvania also confirmed that the actual number of new voter registrations in their states is significantly lower than the figures claimed in the viral post.  

The spread of this misinformation is particularly dangerous as it plays into the hands of conspiracy theorists who believe that the 2020 election was stolen and seek to use this false information to reinforce their belief that Trump will not be allowed to win in 2024. Some even go as far as to suggest that migrants who have entered the country during the Biden Administration will be used to steal the election. These baseless accusations threaten to undermine public trust in our democratic institutions and could be used to justify efforts to restrict voting rights or challenge the outcome of the 2024 election should Trump lose. 

As educators and school employees, we must remain vigilant in combating misinformation and ensuring every eligible voter has the opportunity to participate in our democracy. By promoting truth and defending our electoral process, we can help to counter the dangerous narratives being pushed by those who seek to sow doubt and division.