Drake, 50 Cent, other Recording Artists are Registered to Vote with Same Houston-Area Address

Photo by Rich Fury/Invision/AP, File

Here's a story that shows a political prank can turn into a good case for the need for voter identification when registering to vote. It involves five recording artists and a house in Katy, Texas.

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Katy is a city west of Houston, in the Houston metro area. Katy's population at the time of the 2020 census was 21,894. The point is that it is a small city, most often thought of as a suburb of Houston. There is a story out today that recording artists  Drake, 50 Cent, Chris Brown, Trey Songz, and The Game are all registered to vote with the same address in Katy. 

The house is described as "a beige, $300,000 house in a modest new development in Katy." The homeowner had no idea why the men were registered to vote at that address. Neighbors said they had not seen the performers. 

It's a prank that uses a federal loophole in voter ID laws. 

It wasn't a new reality TV show, but it appears to have been a prank perpetrated by someone who registered the artists to vote without their knowledge, armed only with their legal names and dates of birth. It did not even require an ID.

The apparent prank shines a spotlight on a potential loophole in federal voting registration law that allows virtually anyone to register friends, enemies or celebrities to vote. Whether the intent is malicious or not, experts say it is still illegal.

None of the five men voted in the last election so there is no need to be concerned about voter fraud. They wouldn't be able to cast a vote without an approved ID in Texas. 

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Randall Erben, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin and a former assistant secretary of state in Texas, explained that this case is gaining publicity because of the famous names involved. 

State law is serious, though, and there are penalties for submitting false or fraudulent registration forms. The crime, then, is high risk and low reward, says Erben.

“These people are either committing high misdemeanors or felonies,” Erben said of whoever registered the celebrities to vote. “This is not fooling around.”

“You have a lot of protections against sending in a forged or false voter registration application,” he said.

In other words, whoever thought this was a good idea wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed. It looks like the same person filled out all five voter registration forms.

Following a records request, the Chronicle obtained the musicians’ voter registration applications, which showed identical dates of registration and common handwriting. Mark Songer, a former FBI agent and forensic document examiner for Robson Forensic, confirmed the similarities in penmanship.

“I would certainly say that all five of the voter registration application forms more than likely share a common author,” said Songer, who was trained to examine documents while at the bureau.

A person submitting a false or forged voter application commits a third-degree felony. Acting as someone's agent unlawfully is a Class B misdemeanor. 

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Whoever signed the registrations had to acknowledge the legal risks of doing so fraudulently. 

What is this federal loophole that allows people to register to vote without an ID? It is the Help America Vote Act of 2002. Eligible voters without a driver's license or a Social Security number are able to take advantage of it. There are some people who are eligible to vote but don't have either. It might be someone born outside the United States who never applied for a Social Security number. 

When they go to vote, they have to show some other form of identity, like a utility bill. For example, Drake wouldn't be able to do that. 

Don't worry. This doesn't pose a threat to the singers' actual voter registrations if they are registered in Texas. 

This story, odd as it is, is a good example of the need to close the federal loophole that allows voter registration applications to be presented without identification. It invites shenanigans and creates extra work for election officials.




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David Strom 8:00 AM | July 25, 2024
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