ACRU

Don’t Believe Voter Fraud Happens? Here’s Some Examples

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This column by ACRU Policy Board member Hans von Spakovsky was published May 22, 2015 by The Daily Signal.

In the interest of helping out the editorial writers and pundits of media outlets who don’t think voter fraud occurs, I wanted to note just a few recent cases (and readers interested in seeing almost 200 more such cases can do so here.):

  • In McAllen, Texas, two campaign workers (known as politiqueras in local parlance) who bribed voters with cocaine, beer, cigarettes and cash during a 2012 school board election have been sentenced separately to serve eight and four months in prison, respectively. U.S. District Court Judge Randy Crane called this election fraud “terrible” and said that “our country requires that our voting process be clear and free of fraud for democracy to work… it’s dangerous for this to occur without consequence.”
  • A couple in Le Sueur, Minn., was charged with felony voter registration fraud for lying about where they lived so they could vote in a school bond referendum in another town.
  • A woman in Dothan, Ala., was sentenced to six months in prison for her part in a voter fraud scheme that got a city commissioner re-elected. She was the second of the four people charged to have been found guilty of voter fraud in the case, which may have involved more than 100 absentee ballots.
  • Bronx politician Hector Ramirez has been arrested after a 242-count grand jury indictment charged him with a massive voter fraud scheme that involved tricking voters into letting Ramirez and his staff illegally vote their absentee ballots. The local prosecutor told the New York Daily News that Ramirez, who lost two prior tries at a state assembly seat, “made a decision that he was not going to lose, under any circumstance.”
  • A state appeals court upheld a ruling voiding a 2013 commission election in Weslaco, Texas, in which dozens of illegal votes were cast in an election won by only 16 votes. The illegal votes included individuals falsely claiming to reside in the city and improper “assistance” that told voters who to vote for —- a great example of how even a small amount of fraud can make a difference in close elections.
  • In Philadelphia, the setting of the infamous 2008 New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case, four local election officials have been charged with casting multiple votes in the city’s 18th Ward in a precinct in which three of them didn’t even live and were not registered to vote. This case illustrates the importance of poll watchers, because it was a local poll watcher who saw what happened and brought it to the attention of the district attorney’s office. This is the same district attorney, Democrat Seth Williams, who indicted two Democratic state legislators last year for accepting bribes in exchange for voting against a voter ID bill after the Pennsylvania attorney general, Kathleen Kane, also a Democrat, refused to prosecute the case.
  • On May 7, the Board of Immigration Appeals of the Executive Office for Immigration Review held that a Peruvian citizen who illegally registered and voted could be deported for violating federal law. Margarita Del Pilar became a permanent legal resident of the U.S. in 2004. She promptly applied for an Illinois driver’s license and registered to vote at the same time, then cast a ballot in the 2006 congressional election. When she applied for naturalization in 2007, she admitted in the INS interview that she had voted in an American election. Of course, if she had not applied to become a citizen, she could have continued to illegally vote with almost no chance of being detected.

This case of the Peruvian woman is just another example of how easy it is for noncitizens to vote in our elections. And there are apparently some politicians who want to ensure that they can continue to do so without getting caught.

One recommendation I have made to state legislatures is to implement legislation that requires court clerks to notify state election officials when individuals called for jury duty are excused because they are not U.S. citizens. Courts get their jury lists from voter registration rolls, and it is a requirement that those who register to vote affirm under oath they are U.S. citizens. Individuals called for jury duty also have to affirm, again under oath, that they are U.S. citizens. And yet in a 2005 study, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that 3 percent of the 30,000 individuals called for jury duty from voter registration rolls over a two-year period in just one U.S. district court were not U.S. citizens.

The Virginia legislature recently passed a common-sense election reform bill (HB 1315), which would have required county jury commissioners to provide local election officials with the names of individuals called for jury duty who turned out to not be U.S. citizens. Local registrars could then remove those illegally registered voters and provide information to local law enforcement and the U.S. Justice Department for investigation and possible prosecution.

We know this is a problem in Virginia, where I formerly served on a local county electoral board. As I have explained previously, we fortuitously discovered in 2011 that 278 individuals who were not U.S. citizens had registered to vote in Fairfax County, 117 of whom had voted in state and federal elections. After removing them from the voter rolls, we notified both the U.S. Justice Department and the local district attorney about the problem. Neither did anything about it.

Yet Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a former fundraiser for the Clintons, vetoed this bill on April 30. There is not a single public policy reason for vetoing such simple, straightforward legislation —- unless you want to ensure that noncitizens can continue to register and vote illegally in Virginia elections with little fear of being discovered, particularly if you believe that a majority of these individuals will support your party’s candidates. Virginia is, after all, now a purple state and every vote will count in the 2016 presidential election.