10.26.2016 0

Citizens could sue states to purge voter rolls

By Robert Romano

As originally published at http://www.lifezette.com/polizette/citizens-could-sue-states-to-purge-voter-rolls/

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has complained about a potentially rigged electoral process in the U.S. — for good reason.

“Of course I would accept a clear election result, but I would also reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result,” Trump said at a Delaware, Ohio, rally on Oct. 20.

By allowing ineligible persons to register to vote and to vote in elections, the Federal Election Commission and states are allowing qualified voters’ voices to be fractionalized in the elections.

As well he should.

Trump noted a recent estimate by Pew Charitable Trust that found 1.8 million dead voters still on state voter registration systems, and 2.75 million voters registered in more than one state. A 2002 law by Congress already requires states to keep digital voter lists and to remove ineligible names from their systems, including the dead and those now out of state. But obviously it’s not getting done.

Trump also pointed to a 2014 estimate by Jesse Richman and David Earnest published in The Washington Post that found as many as 14 percent of non-citizens in the U.S. say they are registered to vote.

If true, that would mean of the 20.3 million non-citizens 18 years or older according to the U.S. Census Bureau, some 2.8 million could be registered to vote nationwide.

A survey is not necessarily evidence — but state records sure are. The Public Interest Legal Foundation has discovered  more than 1,000 ineligible non-citizens on voter rolls in just eight Virginia counties. And the only reason they found out about them was because those non-citizens requested removal. There were no records of the state proactively removing non-citizens, meaning the number of non-citizens on the rolls in Virginia could be much higher.

But the truth is, nobody really knows how many non-citizens are on the voter rolls. The Federal Election Commission and states are not required by law to verify citizenship, even though it is illegal for non-citizens to vote or register to vote.

Making matters worse, in the aforementioned 2002 law, non-citizens are not mentioned as one of the classes of people that should be removed from voter rolls by states — even though they absolutely should be. The dead, felons, and out-of-state persons are mentioned, but not non-citizens.

So what can be done?

For starters, Donald Trump could sue to have them removed. Or the Republican National Committee. Or state Republican committees.

Although the RNC apparently entered into a consent decree in 1981 not to pursue efforts to purge voter rolls of ineligible voters, the decree appears limited to targeting specific districts. Nothing from the decree would bar the GOP from targeting all 50 states’ voter rolls.

That said, Republican leaders may still be reluctant to take up such a case. In that instance, aggrieved registered voters themselves might wish to take up the case, if they were so inclined.

Conservative groups like Judicial Watch and True the Vote have sued individual states in the past to rid their voter lists of the dead and out-of-state persons. Standing was not an issue in those cases.

By allowing ineligible persons to register to vote and to vote in elections, the Federal Election Commission and states are allowing qualified voters’ voices to be fractionalized in the elections. Their votes are being canceled out by invalid votes that are stuffing the ballots.

This violates equal protection of the laws by the states guaranteed under the 14th Amendment. Recall that the 2000 Supreme Court decision, Bush v. Gore, was settled along equal protection guidelines. Then, the nation’s highest court said, “The right to vote is protected in more than the initial allocation of the franchise. Equal protection applies as well to the manner of its exercise. Having once granted the right to vote on equal terms, the State may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person’s vote over that of another.” Or indeed, value one ineligible person’s vote over another’s eligible vote.

By systematically allowing non-citizens to illegally participate in the electoral processes, the federal and state governments are denying citizens the equal protection of the laws.

So aggrieved parties should be able to sue to get the states to purge their voter rolls of all ineligible voters, including non-citizens. It would require a novel legal approach, but sitting around waiting for Congress or a future administration to regulate state voter databases to remove non-citizens may take too long.

The worst that could happen is if courts found that because Congress or the administration had not regulated a need to remove non-citizens from the rolls, that in itself could create an impetus for changing the law or forcing an incoming administration to issue regulation. But we won’t know unless somebody files suit — which should have been done years ago.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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