Felons and Noncitizens: It's All Good for Democrats

As the country appears so closely divided between red and blue states, Democrats are seeking oddball constituencies to enhance their numbers. They and their liberal-advocacy law firms and lobbyists have been working for months to get convicted felons certified to vote for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry. Now they want noncitizens to vote.

Millions of noncitizens live in the United States, some legal and some illegal, and Democrats see this as a win-win effort to get them to the polls on Election Day. They figure the percentages are pretty good that those constituencies will vote Democrat.

Local decisions to allow noncitizens to vote in city, county and school board elections should not give them a pass to vote in federal elections, but once they are on the precinct registration rolls, who is going to stop them?

Certainly not Democratic polling officials. In Washington, D.C., five city council members (fortunately, not a majority) recently announced their support for a bill that would allow thousands of noncitizens to vote in local and school board elections.

Washington, D.C., might have as many as 40,000 resident noncitizens. That is clearly enough votes to provide the margin in a close election.

Americans need not stand by and tolerate this impertinence because, as in so many dilemmas, the Constitution of the United States provides a remedy.

Article I, Section 8, gives Congress the power to pass “exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever” over the District of Columbia, and the Republican Congress would be foolish if it doesn’t act immediately to nip this mischief in the bud.

The Washington, D.C., city council isn’t the first to think up this thoroughly bad idea. San Franciscans will vote in November on whether to allow non-citizens, including illegal immigrants, to vote in school board elections even though this is probably a violation of the California state constitution, which requires U.S. citizenship to be eligible to vote.

Other efforts to reward noncitizens with the franchise have emerged in New York City, Hartford, Conn., Los Angeles, Colorado, New Jersey, and Texas. Scattered municipalities in Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois and New York have already gone down this road.

Giving voting rights to noncitizens is a bad idea from every point of view. It cheapens citizenship and it could give legal cover to would-be terrorists who enter the United States with hate in their hearts.

There are already enough problems caused by the Motor Voter Law, under which voting registration is offered to everyone getting a driver’s license. This law is in effect even in states that grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.

Becoming a resident of a state may confer the right to get a driver’s license, but it does not and should not confer citizenship. According to U.S. law, lawful residents must speak English and swear allegiance to the United States before becoming citizens.

They also must become citizens before they can vote. We don’t want any immigrants voting who haven’t made the conscious and sincere decision to renounce loyalty to the country they came from and pledge allegiance to the United States of America.

The Constitution should also be our starting point in the matter of allowing felons to vote. The U.S. Constitution reserves the matter of voting regulations to state legislatures and, in the 14th Amendment, Section 2, specifically authorizes the disenfranchisement of felons.

Nevertheless, Democrats have persuaded activist judges to force Florida into assisting felons, as they leave prison, in getting the right to vote. The Kerry campaign has set up a nationwide legal network to recruit litigators and election lawyers to challenge election results in Florida and other close states.

Democrats have been whining about people who were mistakenly listed as felons on a state database during the 2000 Florida election. But the Democrats are silent about convicted felons who actually voted illegally in the 2000 Florida election, as well as the people who received absentee ballots to vote in New York and Florida.

I suggest that those worried about whole groups of people being disenfranchised, or not having their votes counted, should consider the plight of oversees U.S. military personnel. In 2000, an untold number of military ballots were never counted.

Today, about 150,000 military men and women are serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. They, above all, deserve to have their ballots counted.