A Texas man who received widespread attention after standing more than six hours in line to vote in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary has been arrested on illegal voting charges after casting a ballot while on parole.
Hervis Rogers, 62, was arrested on Wednesday on two counts of illegal voting, a second-degree felony that carries a possible sentence of two to 20 years in prison. His bail has been set at $100,000.
Rogers was one of the many voters in the city of Houston who waited hours in line to cast their ballots during Super Tuesday in March 2020. He became the overnight face of Texas’ battle over voting access after emerging from a polling center at a historically Black college around 1:30 a.m.
But Rogers was a few months short of the end of his parole following two felony burglary convictions from the early 1990s, making him ineligible to cast a ballot under Texas law. Prosecutors also said that Rogers voted illegally on the 2018 midterm elections.
Even though Rogers voted in Harris County, one of the most diverse counties in Texas and where Houston is located, he is being charged and possibly tried in Montgomery County, where he is currently being held.
Andre Segura, an attorney for the ACLU of Texas who is representing Rogers, said his client did not know he was ineligible to vote.
“The arrest and prosecution of Mr. Rogers should alarm all Texans," he said in a statement. "He waited in line for over six hours to vote to fulfill what he believed to be his civic duty, and is now locked up on a bail amount that most people could not afford."
Segura added: "He faces potentially decades in jail. Our laws should not intimidate people from voting by increasing the risk of prosecution for, at worst, innocent mistakes. We will continue to fight for justice for Mr. Rogers and will push back against efforts to further restrict voting rights.”
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.
"Hervis is a felon rightly barred from voting under TX law," Paxton said in a tweet Friday. "I prosecute voter fraud everywhere we find it!"
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 conviction impacts their right to vote, a change Democratic state Rep. John Bucy III has pushed in the aftermath of Mason’s sentence.
“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 criminalize mistakes.”
Research from the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute, shows that voter fraud is "very rare, voter impersonation is virtually nonexistent, and many instances of alleged fraud are, in fact, mistakes by voters or administrators."