‘The full extent of noncitizen registration and voting throughout the Commonwealth remains a mystery mostly due to the obstructionist tactics…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) In most presidential election years, Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes make it a pivotal part in any victory strategy.
If President Donald Trump’s narrow victory in Pennsylvania (by approximately 0.7 percent and under 50,000 votes) is any indication, it is a state in which every vote matters.
A new report by the Public Interest Legal Foundation suggests that it is also a state in which an election could be easily stolen.
The report, titled “Steeling the Vote” identified 139 ineligible non-citizen voters in Allegheny County (which encompasses the city of Pittsburgh), who acknowledged being registered to vote since 2006 due to “flaws” in the screening process while applying for a driver’s license.
“According to officials, any person seeking a driver’s license—regardless of his or her immigration documents on the table during the transaction—was erroneously screened for interest in registering to vote,” the report said.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation first implemented its expedited voter registration process through the DMV following the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the “Motor Voter” law.
Of the 139 noncitizen voters identified in Allegheny County, 87 (62 percent) used the PennDOT system to register, and 13 (9 percent) did so through voting drives.
The report said that 27 percent had voted at least once prior to removal from the voter rolls.
It found that 74 (54 percent) of them registered as Democrats, 38 (27 percent) as non-declared and 23 (16 percent) as Republican.
While the foundation looked only at one region, the true scope of the impact on Pennsylvania’s voting integrity could be much greater.
“According to one Philadelphia City Commissioner, the number of noncitizens who entered the voter registration system during the last two decades exceeded 100,000,” the report said, citing Al Schmidt, one of the three-member panel that oversees the city’s elections.
Among the reasons given by noncitizens, some said the questions used to screen citizenship status were confusingly sequenced or given in a language they didn’t fully understand.
Others said they were pressured by PennDOT employees to register, even after expressing their confusion.
Still, others should have raised red flags, the report said.
“Days after the 2008 election, the Allegheny County Election Division received a concerned citizen’s complaint from a person who overheard a coworker ‘bragging’ about his noncitizen wife’s vote for President of the United States.”
Despite assurances from Pennsylvania officials that the glitch had been resolved, the report faulted an ongoing lack of transparency.
“The full extent of noncitizen registration and voting throughout the Commonwealth remains a mystery mostly due to the obstructionist tactics of the Department of State, which refuses to turn over records that might show just how many noncitizens are presently registered to vote,” it said.
Although the sample of the Allegheny County incidents may seem insignificant when considering the impact on a national election, Pennsylvania’s glitches mirror concerns throughout the nation that voter eligibility may not be fully enforced during registration or in the actual polling stations.
Following the 2016 election, Trump publicly questioned the validity of Hillary Clinton’s 2.8 million popular vote margin, citing research of the 2012 election from the journal Electoral Studies that non-citizen voting may have impacted U.S. elections.