More than 1,000 noncitizens registered to vote in Virginia and cast nearly 200 ballots in elections before being purged from voter rolls, according to a government watchdog group.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation released its findings Tuesday from only eight of Virginia’s 133 voting jurisdictions. So, the group suggested, the problem of noncitizen voting could be more widespread.
Virginia is making no effort to prosecute offenders, said J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department lawyer who now is president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation.
“Virginia election officials don’t seem to care that thousands of ineligible aliens have corrupted their voter rolls by illegally registering to vote,” Adams said in a written statement. “Even worse than doing nothing about it, they are trying to cover it up.”
A total of 31 of the 1,046 registered voters who were noncitizens voted between 2005 and 2015, casting 186 ballots, the organization found.
Virginia has been a battleground state in recent elections. Two races for state attorney general—in 2005 and 2013—were determined by fewer than 1,000 votes statewide. So, voter fraud opponents argue, even a few illegal votes can carry a lot of weight.
“Virginia election officials don’t seem to care that thousands of ineligible aliens have corrupted their voter rolls,” @ElectionLawCtr says.
It is a federal crime and a violation of Virginia law for noncitizens to vote. The federal penalty for an ineligible voter found to have cast a vote could be a fine or imprisonment for no more than one year. Under Virginia law, it is a Class 6 felony for an ineligible voter to vote, punishable by not less than one year of imprisonment and not more than five years.
The foundation’s report says:
In our small sample of just eight Virginia counties who responded to our public inspection requests, we found 1,046 aliens who registered to vote illegally.
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. Each one of them is likely a felony.
The report asserts that the Virginia State Board of Elections, the panel that oversees the state’s Department of Elections, directed local election officials not to provide information to the legal foundation.
The Department of Elections did not respond to phone messages and email inquiries Tuesday from The Daily Signal.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation sought information from 19 cities and counties in the state, but got the data from only eight.
Prince William County had the largest number, 433, of noncitizens purged from the rolls by election officials. Loudoun County was next at 310, followed by Stafford County with 128, the city of Alexandria with 70, Bedford County with 35, Hanover County with 28, the city of Roanoke with 22, and the city of Fairfax with 20.
The report says:
In the eight jurisdictions that provided us with lists of aliens recently removed from their voter rolls, we discovered that 31 noncitizens had cast a total of 186 votes between 2005 and 2015. The most alien votes were cast in 2012 followed by 2008, the year President Obama was elected to his first term.
The report goes on to criticize the state’s lack of verification for citizenship in voter registration:
There is plenty of blame to go around. One culprit, however, is glaringly obvious—federal and state voter registration forms, which ask registrants to affirm their citizenship with nothing more than the check of a box. No documentary proof of citizenship must be shown. It is nothing more than an honor system, one that is unquestionably failing to keep noncitizens from voting.
Alexandria General Registrar Anna Leider, who is in charge of elections and voter registration in the city, previously told The Daily Signal that the city provided the Public Interest Legal Foundation with all the information required by law.
After it cleans the voter rolls, Leider said, a jurisdiction is not required to check for past voting activity—whether the name removed is a noncitizen, someone who died, or someone who moved outside the jurisdiction.