The goal was simple: clean up Texas voter rolls.
But just months before the general election, the names of around 77,000 Texans landed on a statewide list that suggests they may be dead and should be removed from voter rolls.
Voters statewide, including several dozen in Tarrant County, are letting election officials know they are alive and well and plan to vote Nov. 6.
"There was a concern that the death records weren't being cross-checked by anyone against the voter registration rolls," said state Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, one of several co-sponsors of the state law that prompted election officials to create the statewide list. "The objective is worthy: to make sure that when anyone passes away, their names are removed from voter rolls."
Those plans to purge voting rolls before the election may be up in the air, however, since a state district judge last week temporarily blocked Texas' secretary of state from ordering counties to remove names of deceased Texans from their lists.
A hearing on the case is set for early next month, but county election officials statewide have already sent thousands of letters to Texans to determine whether voters believed to be deceased actually are no longer alive.
This and several other bills were adopted last year as Republicans said it was time to crack down on and prevent voter fraud. State leaders have said there have been around 50 voter fraud convictions in Texas in the past decade. Democrats say efforts to fight a small problem will end up discriminating against minority voters and making it harder for some Texans to make it to the polls.
A voter ID measure requiring photo identification to vote also passed the Legislature last year but has been rejected by federal officials as too far-reaching and suppressing minority voters.
As for updating the master voter registration list, the overall process has generated mixed reactions from some legislators who have mixed opinions on how the state's efforts should proceed.
"We are too close to Election Day to try to rush through a purge that likely will cost many Texans their opportunity to vote," state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, wrote in a recent op-ed column. "In the name of fairness and efficiency, we should call a timeout until Jan. 1 and ask the Secretary of State to work with the legislature and counties to ensure the cleanup is done in the most efficient, fair and transparent way, long before any elections take place so as to eliminate the appearance of political games."
King said not much has to be done to fix the system.
"This isn't a huge problem," he said. "At most, it's a minor inconvenience for any voter. We may just need to tweak the process."
Election offices in Texas constantly update voter lists and send updates to the state.
But last year, lawmakers passed House Bill 174, requiring the secretary of state to remove deceased Texans from voter rolls quarterly using information provided by a different source -- the Social Security Administration's master list -- rather than data provided by the Bureau of Vital Statistics, which many county election offices traditionally use.
"There's nothing new about us removing people from the list," Tarrant County Elections Administrator Steve Raborn said. "It's just a different source of information."
As a result, the secretary of state's office sent lists in late August to county election offices identifying nearly 77,000 possibly deceased voters out of 13.1 million registered voters.