More than 1,000 illegal immigrants are registered to vote in Virginia, a new report released by the Virginia Voters Alliance based on data compiled by the Public Interest Legal Foundation finds.
The report took a sample from just eight different municipalities, emphasizing that there were likely more elsewhere in the state: “The problem is most certainly exponentially worse because we have no data regarding aliens on the registration rolls for the other 125 Virginia localities. Even in this small sample, when the voting history of this small sample of alien registrants is examined, nearly 200 verified ballots were cast before they were removed from the rolls.”
That’s a problem because under 18 U.S. Code § 611, it is illegal for any alien, legal or illegal, to vote in elections. That could carry a maximum of one year in prison.
It is also illegal under 18 U.S. Code § 1015 to for any alien, legal or illegal, to register to vote: “Whoever knowingly makes any false statement or claim that he is a citizen of the United States in order to register to vote or to vote in any Federal, State, or local election (including an initiative, recall, or referendum) — shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”
So, why don’t states simply purge immigrant and illegal immigrants from the voter rolls?
Probably the biggest reason is nothing compels them to do so, nor is the data readily accessible to assist them.
Take the Help America to Vote Act of 2002, which although it requires every state to maintain a computerized statewide voter registration list and make reasonable efforts to purge those lists of ineligible voters, the only two criteria it lists for removal are if the person dies, or he or she moves out of the state.
States have attempted to implement voter identification laws with proof of citizenship requirements of their own but with uneven results. When Indiana implemented its voter identification law, the Supreme Court upheld it in 2008.
But when Texas put in place a very similar law it was overturned by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals as a violation of the 14th Amendment. And when Kansas attempted to put in place a proof of citizenship requirement in order to register to vote on the state application — the federal version of the form has no such requirement — a federal district judge shot that down, too.
In the meantime, while much attention is focused on proof of citizenship identification requirements, very few efforts are being put towards the task of actually purging voter rolls of non-citizens.
Donald Trump has promised to tackle the issue of illegal immigration as a central plank of his platform. Should he win the election in November, he might also wish to address the critical issue of non-citizen voting. But how?
For starters, since as noted above it is already illegal for non-citizens to either vote or register to vote, and under 18 U.S. Code § 371 it is illegal for two or more persons to conspire to break any federal law, a new administration could force states to purge their rolls by providing them a verifiable list of eligible and ineligible voters in every state using existing birth, immigration, naturalization, marriage and state motor vehicle records.
The federal government could then issue a regulation based on those laws and utilizing that data to compel states to purge voter rolls of ineligible non-citizens. And then if the states refuse, they would then be participating in a criminal conspiracy to commit election fraud and state officials could be prosecuted and imprisoned for each count — one for every non-citizen voter they refused to purge from the records.
I venture to guess those state voter rolls would be cleaned up in a jiffy.
The issue boils down to maintaining integrity in our electoral processes, and to ensure our democracy cannot be overtaken by foreigners outside the franchise. And by creating a very real penalty when laws against non-citizen voting are violated.
Only citizens should vote, and perhaps, for the first time, a Trump administration could make sure that’s the case. All Mr. Trump would have to do is enforce existing laws.