At least 100,000 nonci­t­i­zens reg­is­tered to vote in Penn­syl­va­nia

Law­suit calls on state to re­lease data

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

More than 100,000 nonci­t­i­zens are reg­is­tered to vote in Penn­syl­va­nia alone, ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony sub­mit­ted in a law­suit de­mand­ing the state come clean about the ex­tent of its prob­lems.

The Public In­ter­est Le­gal Foun­da­tion, which has iden­ti­fied sim­i­lar nonci­t­i­zen vot­ing prob­lems in stud­ies of Vir­ginia and New Jer­sey, said Penn­syl­va­nia of­fi­cials have ad­mit­ted nonci­t­i­zens have been reg­is­ter­ing and vot­ing in the state “for decades.”

But state of­fi­cials have stonewalled PILF re­quests for ac­cess to the data that could ex­pose the prob­lem, the group says in a law­suit filed in fed­eral court in Har­ris­burg.

“For months, Penn­syl­va­nia bu­reau­crats have con­cealed facts about nonci­t­i­zens reg­is­ter­ing and vot­ing — that ends to­day,” PILF Pres­i­dent and Gen­eral Coun­sel Chris­tian Adams said.

He said Penn­syl­va­nia had al­ready ad­mit­ted to a “glitch” dat­ing back to the 1990s that had al­lowed nonci­t­i­zens ap­ply­ing to re­new driver’s li­censes to be of­fered the chance to reg­is­ter to vote. Mr. Adams said he now wants to find out how bad the prob­lem is over­all.

Penn­syl­va­nia of­fi­cials wouldn’t re­spond to the law­suit, nor to the 100,000 nonci­t­i­zen num­ber.

“We’re not go­ing to com­ment on any­thing re­lated to lit­i­ga­tion,” said Wanda Mur­ren, di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and press at the Penn­syl­va­nia De­part­ment of State.

The 100,000 num­ber cited in the law­suit comes from tes­ti­mony given by Philadel­phia Com­mis­sioner Al Sch­midt, who re­vealed the glitch in the state mo­tor ve­hi­cle bureau’s sys­tems that prompted nonci­t­i­zens to reg­is­ter to vote.

Mr. Sch­midt didn’t re­spond to an email seek­ing com­ment.

While Penn­syl­va­nia re­fused PILF record re­quests, the group did man­age to J. ob­tain data from some coun­ties, and found sev­eral cu­ri­ous cases.

One man, Felipe Ro­jas-Orta, can­celed his reg­is­tra­tion last year, fil­ing a hand­writ­ten note say­ing he was not a cit­i­zen. He had, how­ever, reg­is­tered as a Demo­crat and voted in three sep­a­rate elec­tions, in­clud­ing most re­cently 2016, the year of the pres­i­den­tial race.

A woman had her reg­is­tra­tion can­celed in 2006 as a nonci­t­i­zen, yet re-reg­is­tered to vote twice — and cast bal­lots in some elec­tions. That woman, a reg­is­tered Demo­crat, is still ac­tive in the sys­tem, the law­suit says.

Yet an­other woman voted in 2008 and 2012, had her reg­is­tra­tion can­celed in 2014 be­cause she wasn’t a cit­i­zen, then rereg­is­tered and voted in 2016, ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments filed in court. She was reg­is­tered as a Demo­crat.

The fed­eral “mo­tor-voter” law re­quires states to make voter reg­is­tra­tion avail­able at mo­tor ve­hi­cle bu­reaus, but also pushes states to try to keep their voter rolls clean. Un­der the law, pri­vate par­ties can sue to press states to per­form the cleans­ing.

Penn­syl­va­nia of­fi­cials re­peat­edly re­fused re­quests un­der the law, ac­cord­ing to the law­suit. The state would only let the PILF look at records re­lated to vot­ers stripped from the rolls be­cause of death or change of res­i­dence.

The PILF says that’s a mis­read­ing of the law.

The group has re­leased re­ports in the past de­tail­ing more than 1,000 nonci­t­i­zens reg­is­tered to vote in New Jer­sey and more than 5,500 reg­is­tered in Vir­ginia. Roughly a third of those from Vir­ginia ac­tu­ally cast bal­lots.

The num­bers only in­clude peo­ple whose reg­is­tra­tion was can­celed be­cause they later said they weren’t cit­i­zens, and thus in­el­i­gi­ble to vote. An­a­lysts say it’s dif­fi­cult to fig­ure out how many oth­ers are reg­is­tered but never dis­cov­ered be­cause they don’t self-re­port.

Pres­i­dent Trump’s voter in­tegrity com­mis­sion was sup­posed to try to get a broader han­dle on that ques­tion by check­ing voter rolls against gov­ern­ment data­bases. But Mr. Trump dis­banded the com­mis­sion amid a se­ries of law­suits and ques­tions over the panel’s ac­tiv­i­ties.

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