10.05.2016 2

Philadelphia keeps felons, illegal immigrants and other ineligibles on voter rolls


By Natalia Castro

We don’t need to wait until November to wonder if illegal voters will be casting ballots, thanks to a 2016 Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) report on the city of Philadelphia we already know that this will be happening and has been happening. The report shows that not only are illegal immigrants casting ballots but thousands of felons remain on voter rolls as well, even though they are ineligible to vote.

Usually getting into the voter system via motor voter, in many cases legal and illegal immigrants would check the box indicating that they were not citizens, yet continued to fill out the registration form and their registration was processed. In other cases, illegal immigrants would simply check “yes” to their citizenship status and with no other question of citizenship their form would be processed.

Registered illegal voters are also not removed from voter rolls unless they request their removal.  The immigrant is expected to contact local government offices of their illicit status and request a removal, often after years of illegal voting.

In 2015, only 23 registered voters canceled their registration due to lack of citizenship, 30 percent had voted in past elections and 13 percent had been on the rolls for over 10 years. With data since 2013, each year illegal immigrants have been proven to have voted illegally.

The problem, according to the report, “The report only details aliens who requested to be removed from the rolls. No procedure exists to systematically scan voter rolls to detect aliens and election officials do not use data from the federal SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements) database to scan for illegal registrations by non-citizens.”

With no executive oversight, nearly anyone can vote in this state, and any other state which does not have voter registration laws in place.

Similarly, felons, who have legally lost their right to vote, are not removed from voter registration rolls unless they request that the state cancel their registration. Leaving the responsibility for law and order to the felon.

Nationally the federal government has attempted to curb this power, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 clarifies the constitutional requirement of citizenship and demands acknowledgment of this provision by the voter. The act states that, “The voter registration application must state each voter eligibility requirement (including citizenship), contain an attestation that the applicant meets each requirement, state the penalties provided by law for submission of a false voter registration application and require the signature of the applicant under penalty of perjury.”

While this forces individuals to be aware of the possible prosecution, cities like Philadelphia who simply do not enforce the law provide no deterrent against illegal voting.

The PILF report notes, “The City does nothing to actively prevent or discover noncitizen registration. Worse, the system is failing to respond to aliens participating illegally in our elections as law enforcement officials have not vigorously prosecuted this voter fraud. Make no mistake, when an alien registers to vote, it is voter fraud. It’s also a federal felony.”

While legislation such as the Help America to Vote Act of 2002 requires states maintain computerized states voter registration lists and make a reasonable effort to purge those lists of illegible voters, states only need to purge of voters who are deceased or move out of state. Allowing them to neglect felons and illegal immigrants.

When states such as Kansas and Texas then make statewide attempts to abide by this law to the fullest extent and impose voter identification laws, these laws are now routinely being shot down in courts. Continually allowing states to disregard federal law.

The Constitution outlines that only citizens can vote in national elections. And many states further bar felons from voting. The federal government has attempted to reinforce this with the Help America to Vote Act, however, without a binding agreement which holds states accountable for the election fraud within their municipalities the law goes unenforced.

When the state leaders do not care about maintaining fair and honest elections, voters cannot be expected to have the same moral authority for their country. A potential solution could be with state legislatures requiring that ineligible non-citizens and felons be periodically purged from voter rolls, because right now there appears to be nothing in place at the state-level to protect the voter franchise.

Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.

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