Congress just appropriated record sums of cash in the omnibus bill to fund “election security” for the state ballot systems. Democrat senators like Pat Leahy lauded the bill for “preserving our democracy, and maintaining full faith in our elections.” Yet as Congress worries over foreign interference in our elections, blue states are implementing policies that will ensure foreigners vote in our elections, whose outcomes often hinge on razor-thin margins of victory.
A number of blue states, including Illinois, have adopted policies to automatically register those with valid state driver’s licenses to vote in elections. The threat of noncitizens voting in elections under such a system has always been a clear concern, absent an ironclad system to weed out those with noncitizen driver’s licenses from the registration list. Well, this concern has become reality in Illinois, where the state’s board of elections now admits 545 noncitizens were registered to vote, just among those who self-reported as such by checking the noncitizen box on the driver’s license application.
“For whatever reason that technological programming error did not properly remove the individuals,” secretary of state spokesman Henry Haupt explained, reports WCIA news. “The individuals who are applying for driver’s license were inadvertently pooled into the automatic voter registration.”
But in blue states, with an increased desire to grant not just legal immigrants but illegal immigrants driver’s licenses, coupled with the push for automatic voter registrations, is this really a bug or a feature of the desired outcome? What prudent public official would push for a policy that sweeps up so many non-eligible people to automatically vote and then relies on programming to weed out those who don’t belong? That sure sounds like playing with fire, assuming they really seek to avoid registering noncitizens.
“If states like Illinois and others are foolish enough to install automatic voter registration, we can’t trust them to stress-test their new systems for features like registering noncitizens to vote,” said Logan Churchwell of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, the leading nonprofit group pushing for clean voter rolls. “Automatic voter registration, at its core, minimizes voters to lines of code sloppily swapped between databases. Said databases are too often built by lowest-bidding vendors with little to no understanding of voter registration laws on the shortest of deadlines. If Illinois has any decency, it will issue letters stating that their errors put noncitizens on potential paths to deportation — especially if incumbent politicians sent them mail instructing how to vote.”
This concern is particularly consequential when it comes to legal immigrants seeking naturalization. Most legal immigrants registered to vote likely never even intended to engage in voter fraud, but this irresponsible system sets them up for potential deportation rather than naturalization. That is why the ACLU, of all organizations, originally voiced concerns over California’s automatic voter registration system. The organization feared it would needlessly ensnare immigrants into committing a felony, making them eligible for deportation. In a state like Illinois, while citizens have a very tough time getting access to voter rolls, political parties and candidates can access them to send out mailers. Thus, some of these noncitizens would actually be getting mailers asking for their vote, further confusing them about American law.
However, it conveniently seems that states with the most pro-illegal immigrant policies are simultaneously promoting same-day voter registration. For example, just days after long lines were seen of illegal aliens registering for driver’s licenses in New York beginning in December, the state Senate passed a law to enact automatic voter registration. This will help get illegal aliens on the voter rolls as well. Almost all of the 15 states that grant licenses to illegal aliens also have automatic voter registration, including Illinois.
It’s unclear how many of the noncitizens registered to vote in Illinois were here illegally.
WCIA’s Mark Maxwell reports that the board of elections admitted 19 noncitizens cast actual ballots in the 2018 elections. That might not seem like a meaningful number, but many local races are decided by razor-thin margins. As Maxwell observed, the Macon County sheriff’s race was decided by a single vote. There were reportedly seven noncitizens who voted in that county.
This can happen in larger elections as well. In my home state of Maryland, illegal aliens can get driver’s licenses, and there is also automatic voter registration. The primary deciding the Democrat nominee (who is automatically a shoo-in for the general election) for county executive in Baltimore County, a large county of one million people, was decided by just seven votes in 2018. Shouldn’t we all have the confidence that there is no foreign interference directly counted in our elections? Isn’t noncitizen voting a bigger threat to elections than Russian Twitter bots?
Remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg, because the state only confirmed those noncitizens who self-reported as noncitizens on the forms. It’s an honor system. How many noncitizens are registered and didn’t come forward or committed fraud? In 2017, Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt estimated that over 100,000 noncitizens were registered over the past two decades statewide. In 2016, PILF found 1,046 noncitizens registered to vote in eight Virginia counties and that they “cast a total of 186 votes between 2005 and 2015.” We won’t know the extent of this problem until state or federal officials go through DHS immigration data and compare it against voter registrations.
It doesn’t appear that too many of these states are in a rush to find out the true number. After all, the great ideal of “preserving our democracy, and maintaining full faith in our elections” doesn’t seem to apply to the actual people casting the ballots and determining the future of our country.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.