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Tracking the non-citizen vote

Legitimate voters are expected to put up with a threat to democracy that is ridiculously easy to remove.

Last weekend, the Washington Post’s “Monkey Cage” blog ran a stunning article by Jesse Richman and David Earnest, entitled “Could non-citizens decide the November election?”  They weren’t referring to the political struggle over granting amnesty to illegal aliens.  They were talking about non-citizens voting illegally right now.

And while the thesis statement of the article was to statistically chart a middle ground between those who claim non-citizen voting is so rare as to be irrelevant, and those who “define such incidents as a threat to democracy itself,” their conclusion was that “most non citizens do not register, let alone vote… but enough do that their participation can change the outcome of close races.”  In fact, they make a statistically convincing, but admittedly speculative, case that non-citizen voting has tipped close races in the past, such as Senator Al Franken’s 2008 election in Minnesota.  Given the rate of non-citizen voting sussed out by Richman and Earnest, the probable level of illegal voting in close races can exceed the margin of victory, and it’s no secret which party they tend to vote for:

How many non-citizens participate in U.S. elections? More than 14 percent of non-citizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples indicated that they were registered to vote. Furthermore, some of these non-citizens voted. Our best guess, based upon extrapolations from the portion of the sample with a verified vote, is that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010.

Because non-citizens tended to favor Democrats (Obama won more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 CCES sample), we find that this participation was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections. Non-citizen votes could have given Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health-care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) won election in 2008 with a victory margin of 312 votes. Votes cast by just 0.65 percent of Minnesota non-citizens could account for this margin. It is also possible that non-citizen votes were responsible for Obama??s 2008 victory in North Carolina. Obama won the state by 14,177 votes, so a turnout by 5.1 percent of North Carolina??s adult non-citizens would have provided this victory margin.

I don’t know, fellas… that all sounds like a “threat to democracy itself,” doesn’t it?  What is the point of democracy, if illegal voting and other ballot-box shenanigans are tolerated?  In what sense can a government be said to represent its citizens if non-citizens are able to sway the outcome of elections?  Even the honest statist – perhaps especially the honest statist – should be outraged at the perversion of voting, which statists regard as the mechanism for transforming popular will into pure, clean Big Government power.

Alas, there aren’t really that many honest statists.  Most of them are quite willing to put up with vote fraud – some of them think it’s amusing – provided the end result is more power for the State.  The righteousness of their ultimate utopian cause excuses any crimes against democracy necessary to drag the benighted electorate to the Promised Land.  Also, the Left tends to find the notion of “legal citizenship” distasteful at best; who are we to deny all rights and benefits to every “dreamer” who crosses the border?

It is astounding that anyone would treat this as a non-issue, much less try to pervert the problem into a race-baiting appeal to Democrat voters by portraying the struggle against vote fraud as a racist effort to suppress the votes of legitimate minority voters.  No, my friends, illegal voting is what suppresses your legitimate vote.  Every illegitimate ballot cast is a legal ballot nullified.

It shouldn’t be necessary to calculate the precise rate at which such voting occurs to demand the best efforts available to prevent it.  Illegal voting is a felony offense.  Other felony crimes are not ignored if they don’t happen with a certain frequency.  Also, not all non-citizen voters are illegal aliens looking to deliberately violate another American law.  Some of them are honestly mistaken in their belief that they can vote.  Shouldn’t we have a system that efficiently prevents both willful crime and innocent mistakes?  With the data processing capabilities available today, how can anyone keep a straight face while pretending such a system is impossible to create, without placing an unreasonable burden on voters?  (And when did anyone get the idea that democracy requires voting be as easy as using one-click ordering to buy an e-book on Amazon.com?)

Along those lines, the Washington Post article vaguely asserts that most of the non-citizen voting falls into the “innocent mistake” category, on the grounds that “in 2008, non-citizens with less than a college degree were significantly more likely to cast a validated vote, and no non-citizens with a college degree or higher cast a validated vote.”  From this, the authors deduce that there is “a link between non-citizen voting and lack of awareness about legal barriers.”  That could also mean those who deliberately encourage illegal voting have more success persuading the less educated cohort to do it.

There is also an assertion that voter ID laws don’t do much to cut down on non-citizen voting: “We also find that one of the favorite policies advocated by conservatives to prevent voter fraud appears strikingly ineffective. Nearly three quarters of the non-citizens who indicated they were asked to provide photo identification at the polls claimed to have subsequently voted.”

Leaving aside the unbroached topic of how many of those photo IDs were, shall we say, less than entirely official, there is the question of states such as Oregon and California pushing to give drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens, and the rather generous assortment of identification cards and documents accepted under states with voter ID laws.  (That doesn’t prevent opponents of the laws from shrieking that they’re asking too much of people who have no problem with being asked for photo ID when they conduct countless mundane transactions.)  But none of that is an insurmountable obstacle to securing the ballot, because identifying the prospective voter is only half the process.  The other half involves verifying that the identified individual is eligible to vote.  That should be a trivial exercise in data processing, especially given access to the federal databases that Washington loves to use for its own agendas, but is very reluctant to share with states when they try to cut down on illegal voting.

Are there really people stupid enough to believe that the same ultra-government that micro-manages every aspect of our lives is utterly incapable of running a quick test to ensure that (a) the person claiming to be John Smith of Mulberry Drive, Anytown USA is, in fact, John Smith, (b) John Smith is eligible to vote in Anytown, USA, and (c) John Smith has not already voted, either in Anytown or elsewhere?  This is an especially risible argument given the expansion of early and absentee voting to ridiculous extremes.  There is plenty of time available to perform integrity tests that modern computer networks can execute in a matter of moments.

For example, there have been several stories over the last few years in which local election officials and media outlets performed the simplest integrity check imaginable, and found a stunning number of illegitimate voters: they merely compared the list of registered voters to the list of people who begged out of jury duty by claiming to be non-citizens.  Falsely making either of those claims is a felony offense.  I’ve seen such news reports in my hometown, and found enough of them on the Internet over the past few years to suspect that half of the local news outlets in America have filed similar exposes… and yet, leftists and their media allies still pretend illegal voting is such a minor problem that it’s not worth the effort of controlling.

Lo and behold, here comes another such story out of Virginia and Maryland, as a watchdog group called the Virginia Voters Alliance performed such a check of registered voters against jury duty opt-outs and found that up to seven percent of Maryland’s registered voters could be illegal immigrants.  As with every local news station that has ever performed such an integrity test, they found numerous individuals who had actually voted illegally in previous elections, sometimes stretching back for years.  Accordingly, the watchdog group is suing the Frederick County Board of Elections and the Maryland State Board of Elections in U.S. district court… but of course, it’s too late to do anything about it for the 2014 midterm elections, because voter rolls cannot be purged within 60 days of a federal election.

They also found 44,000 people improperly registered to vote in both Virginia and Maryland, although evidently the number of people who actually do so is relatively small – 164 reported incidents during the 2012 election.  That’s still a crime, and it’s hard to see how any of those people could be excused as “accidentally” voting in two different states.  (Apologists for illegal voting usually concoct elaborate scenarios in which naive, well-meaning voters kinda sorta forget that they absentee-voted in State A before trooping to the polls in State B.)

With such evidence, we should be able to dispense with the argument that vote fraud hardly ever happens.  It absolutely does happen; the only question is whether it’s significant enough to tip individual elections.  But that’s not a question that needs to be asked before requiring the best methods available to our high-tech online world be brought to bear against the problem.  There is no valid reason for legitimate American voters to tolerate any illegal voting.  It is a dereliction of our duty as citizens to put up with it because we’ve been intimidated out of complaining… much less because we think illegal voting benefits the Party a citizen personally favors.  Among the many reasons to pro-actively stamp out vote fraud, it’s a crime that is virtually impossible to make restitution for after it happens.  It’s difficult to envision a post-election drama in which an aggrieved candidate conclusively proves the election was stolen from him with illegitimate votes, and the outcome is overturned.  And even if that happened, does anyone think such post-election battles would improve our already dysfunctional system of government?  Securing our ballots won’t fix the other problems, but it will keep us from worrying about something that should not be a problem at all.  Alas, there is political power to be harvested from pretending that it remains, and will always remain, 1965.

Update: The undercover cameramen from Project Veritas spent a week posing as illegal aliens, approaching the operatives of several different political campaigns in North Carolina, and asking for help with voting.  You’ll never guess what happened.

If it’s too much to ask our Ruling Class to enforce either citizenship or voting laws, can we at least get them to stop actively assisting the lawbreakers?

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Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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