New Report: Thousands of Non-Citizens Voting in Virginia

Today, the Public Interest Legal Foundation released a disturbing report about non-citizens registered to vote and actually voting in Virginia:

After three lawsuits, scores of record requests, and reviews voter history files across 133 Virginia jurisdictions, the Public Interest Legal Foundation has uncovered the following:

  • Virginia election officials quietly removed 5,556 voters for non-citizenship between 2011 and May 2017;
  • 1,852 of those removed as noncitizens cast ballots;
  • A total of 7,474 illegal ballots were cast from the pool of removed noncitizens;
  • Some records of illegal voting date back to the 1980s before their respective removals;
  • Virginia election officials routinely fail to alert law enforcement about these illegal votes or registrations.

“At the instruction of Governor McAuliffe’s political appointees, local election officials spent countless resources to prevent this information from spilling into the open,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “Virginia hid critical information that would have improved election integrity while a political operative-turned-governor vetoed numerous proposals that would’ve prevented alien registration and voting. From NoVa to Norfolk and all urban and rural points in between, alien voters are casting ballots with practically no legal consequences in response. 

“In this election year, aliens must not cast illegal ballots, and if they do they must be prosecuted. Let’s pray that Gov. McAuliffe’s veto pen did not invite a close election tainted by fraud,” Adams added. 

In the absence of regular data-sharing arrangements between federal officials and the Commonwealth, the ability of election officials to identify aliens on the voter rolls is almost nonexistent. The most that happens in Virginia is that an alien on the voter rolls will sometimes tell the state DMV they are not a citizen. Without those leads, counties and municipalities must accept false claims of citizenship on their face.

This report gives lie to those who claim that there is no problem with ineligible voters voting and determining the outcomes of elections.  In addition to other close races detailed in the full report (page 12), the winner of the 2013 attorney general election was determined by just 907 votes statewide.  As PILF noted, the methods for removing non-citizens from the voter registration rolls are far from effective or complete and the existing methods are rarely followed.  So there are likely far more non-citizens registered to vote and additional votes by non-citizens that PILF was unable to identify through their data review.  

This problem is duplicated in nearly every state across the country but has largely not been studied because it requires a tremendous amount of time and resources.  Sadly, PILF had to litigate against local election officials who refused to disclose voter registration data as required by the NVRA.  We can only hope that President Trump's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity can conduct or prompt similar studies in a number of states and that state and local officials will cooperate, as required by law, in efforts to improve the accuracy of voter registration rolls.