When Zombies, Aliens, and Felons Steal Our Votes

This column by ACRU Policy Board member Hans von Spakovsky and Jennifer Matthes was published October 7, 2016 by The Daily Signal.

People may expect zombies to be wandering the streets on Halloween, but they certainly don’t expect them to start casting ballots a week later. Yet in Colorado, dead voters’ ballots are cropping up in the vote counts.

CBS4, a Denver TV station, identified multiple cases of dead men and women in the state voting, with dozens of other deceased individuals still on the rolls. Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams confirmed these instances and both state and county investigations have been launched.

This comes on top of a report back in May by another CBS station in Los Angeles that found a similar problem in Southern California, with some zombie voters repeatedly voting from the grave years after they died.

While Colorado isn’t the only state dealing with an influx of ineligible voters, it’s unfortunately one of the few states trying to do something about it. A recent report by the Public Interest Legal Foundation and Virginia Voters Alliance lists thousands of noncitizens who were registered to vote and cast ballots in elections in Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The report analyzed data from just eight counties within Virginia. In these eight, the legal foundation found over 1,000 aliens who registered to vote illegally, with nearly 200 ballots cast from this group before they were removed from the rolls.

What’s perhaps most shocking about this is that the alien voters were only detected because when they renewed their driver’s licenses, they told the truth the second time when they admitted to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles that they were not citizens. Thus, this report certainly only shows a fraction of the problem, while the true extent of ineligible noncitizen voters in Virginia has yet to be uncovered.

While this number may seem insignificant, recall that the 2013 Virginia attorney general’s race was decided by a margin of 165 votes, not to mention how the integrity of the voting process is compromised and the votes of legitimate voters are stolen when ineligible individuals are allowed to cast ballots.

While these aliens have been removed from the registration rolls, it seems no information about their illegal registration and voting has been turned over to law enforcement for investigation and prosecution.

Worse still, state election officials appointed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, have refused to provide information on their voting histories and have instructed other counties contacted by the Public Interest Legal Foundation not to provide information on aliens removed from the voter rolls. This gives the appearance of a blatant cover-up.

Instead of being outraged at this illegal behavior by noncitizens or outlining what steps would be taken by the state to prosecute them, McAuliffe instead accused the Public Interest Legal Foundation of prematurely casting doubt on election results: “When you can’t talk about issues and you have nothing to say to the American public about what you will do for them, you throw up issues that have no basis in substance at all.”

No substance? McAuliffe ignored the fact that all of these individuals who illegally registered and voted were removed from the voter rolls because election officials had all the “substance” they needed to prove they were ineligible noncitizens. The governor is ignoring instance after instance of possible felony voter fraud.

Unfortunately, this problem is not unique to Virginia. A similar report released by the legal foundation on Philadelphia shows that thousands of ineligible voters, both noncitizens and felons, registered to vote, stayed on the rolls, and cast ballots in the City of Brotherly Love.

Again, these instances were only found through individuals self-reporting their ineligibility or by chance, meaning they only cover a fraction of the problem, and again, Philadelphia election officials have done nothing to identify these ineligible voters.

Despite the fact that incarcerated felons are barred from voting, Philadelphia election officials refuse to remove felons from the voter rolls or even notate their records. They don’t even know who the felons are because they didn’t ask.

As the legal foundation’s report says, “City of Philadelphia election officials behave as if Pennsylvania law prohibiting certain felons from voting doesn’t even exist. This is rank lawlessness.” They also take no proactive steps to detect aliens who are illegally registered or voting.

The fact that there are so many felons and potential felons from Philadelphia in the state Legislature today or formerly might have something to do with Philadelphia’s lawless attitude. This was demonstrated at a hearing on Oct. 3 at the state Capitol where J. Christian Adams, president and general counsel of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, testified before the Pennsylvania House State Government Committee on the findings in the Philadelphia report.

One of the members of the committee is Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Philadelphia, who is under indictment for taking bribes to vote against voter ID legislation. According to state grand jury testimony, she admitted her guilt and told undercover officers that she preferred her bribes to be delivered by check, not in cash.

Despite this admission to the grand jury and the fact that four other defendants facing similar charges have all pleaded guilty and a fifth pleaded no contest (all state legislators, too), Brown is claiming she was racially targeted by law enforcement. This claim has been vehemently denied by all of the law enforcement officials involved in the prosecution.

According to a source present at the hearing, Brown spent much of the Oct. 3 hearing disputing that prohibiting incarcerated felons from voting should be a concern even though it is the law of Pennsylvania. She complained that talking about the issue would deter felons from voting once they got out of prison. She said encouraging felons to vote when they leave prison should be more important than worrying about ballots being cast for or by them when they are in prison.

This caused state Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-Tamaqua, to explode even though he was sitting next to Brown on the dais: “My constituents don’t give a rip about whether a felon is discouraged from voting, I can tell you that much, they care about their vote not being canceled by an illegal vote. “

Another convicted felon (we are not making this up) who is a member of the House committee was also present at the hearing, although she got up at one point and left the hearing room. State Rep. Leslie Acosta, D-Philadelphia, pleaded guilty in March to a felony count of conspiring to commit money laundering, although that has not stopped her from running for re-election (or potentially voting in November). Only in Philadelphia.

Virginia, Philadelphia, and Colorado all highlight the security problems we have in our voter registration system that allow fraudulent and illegal votes to poison the integrity of the election process. They emphasize the need for officials to investigate, charge, and remove ineligible voters from the rolls, not ignore the problem and refuse to enforce the law against wrongdoers.

No matter how small the number, ineligible and zombie voters have no place in our voting rolls or ballot boxes. Until we take steps to improve the security and integrity of our election process, the problem will only grow.