More Non-Citizens May Be Registered to Vote in Pennsylvania Than Initial Reports Indicated

The latest from the non-citizen voter registration problems in Pennsylvania is that the problem could be much larger than initially thought.  Back in September, Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt reported that 220 non-citizens registered to vote in Philadelphia through a "glitch" at the DMV that allowed persons to register to vote after they had proven that they were non-citizens.  41% had voted at least once.

Then in October, Pennsylvania's Democratic Secretary of State, Pedro Cortes, resigned abruptly and with no explanation.  No official explanation has been given to date, though it was revealed in Novemberthat Democratic Governor Tom Wolf forced the resignation, but rumors abound that the resignation was related to the non-citizen registration debacle.

But now it appears after some initial investigation that the problem is greater than the early estimates:

Philadelphia election Commissioner Al Schmidt told state lawmakers this past week that there may be tens of thousands of non-US citizens who have registered to vote in Pennsylvania…and that for their sake, state officials should try to contact them. 

Commissioner Al Schmidt told a Senate committee that many of the non-US citizens who registered to vote in Philadelphia, perhaps unwittingly, did so through a glitch in the state’s motor voter system. While the known cases number only several hundred, he says they are all self-reported. Schmidt says more than 100,000 PA driver’s license numbers with Immigration and Naturalization Service indicators match with voter registration records. . . . "We’re not talking about an insignificant number here,” said Schmidt. “We’re talking about a potentially very significant number of thousands and tens of thousands.”

While not all of these license number hits are non-citizens registered to vote, certainly a significant number are.  As Commissioner Schmidt points out, the victims of non-citizen voter registration and voting are not only the citizens whose votes are cancelled out but the non-citizens themselves, as voter registration as a non-citizen can hinder any future naturalization process: 

Schmidt says those people should be contacted. Besides the issue of election integrity, he says registering to vote – even unintentionally – will derail an immigrant’s path to US citizenship.

We will continue to follow this story and investigation.  It demonstrates the immense importance of proper election procedures and testing of election systems to ensure that there are no "glitches," whether technical or substantive, that threaten the integrity of voter registration or elections.