Government

Voter Fraud — Accuracy or Advocacy?

The real story about the 95,000 noncitizen voters discovered on the rolls in Texas.

Arnold Ahlert · Jan. 31, 2019

In an era where fake news is becoming rampant and the Internet is rife with wholly misleading “clickbait” headlines, sometimes a story is, as the adage goes, too good to be true. On Jan. 25, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that 95,000 individuals on the voter rolls were “noncitizens” and illegally registered to vote. Texas Secretary of State David Whitely added fuel to the fire, confirming that 58,000 of those noncitizens broke the law and voted in “one or more” recent elections. In a statement, Paxton said, “Every single instance of illegal voting threatens democracy in our state and deprives individual Texans of their voice.”

The totals arise from an investigation that lasted 11 months, and the Attorney General’s Office also pointed out that 33 people were prosecuted for voter fraud last year, and 97 were prosecuted between 2005-17. Voting illegally is a second-degree felony in the Lone Star State.

Texas has some of the nation’s most stringent voter ID laws. But as the DA’s office revealed, the opportunity to register illegally remains possible. “Texas law allows lawfully present noncitizens to obtain driver’s licenses by showing proof of lawful presence to DPS [Department of Public Safety],” the office explained in a statement. “However, only citizens are eligible to vote. And Texas law currently does not require verification of a voter’s statement that they are a citizen.”

Unsurprisingly, leftists were skeptical of the findings, and one of the Democrat Party’s most reliable media allies led the charge against them. “More than 8.3 million people voted in the Texas governor’s race last year, which means that even if all 58,000 people who voted were, in fact, found to be noncitizens and voted in 2018 — a claim that no state official has made — they would have amounted to only 0.69 percent of all votes that were cast,” The New York Times reported.

Only? The 2000 presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush was ultimately determined by only 537 votes of the more than 5.8 million cast in Florida — as in “only” 0.000092% of the votes cast. And the 2008 Minnesota Senate race giving Democrat Al Franken the nod over Republican Norm Coleman was decided by 312 votes — in a state where 1,099 felons illegally cast ballots.

Perhaps the Times could enlighten us regarding the acceptable percentage of illegal votes the American public should tolerate to avoid being subjected to the Left’s oh-so familiar charges of voter “suppression” and/or “racism.”

Cue activist Beth Stevens, voting rights legal director for the Texas Civil Rights Project. “There is no credible data that indicates illegal voting is happening in any significant numbers, and the Secretary’s statement does not change that fact,” she asserted.

Isn’t one illegal vote “significant,” Ms. Stevens? Or have we reached a level of rationale where a “little” intellectual bankruptcy — in service to one’s agenda — is acceptable?

Yet agendas cut both ways. “Despite the language of the DPS statement, an advisory to election administrators and voter registrars sent the same day, the Texas director of elections said that the 95,000 name matches between legal immigrants and voter rolls should be considered ‘WEAK,” The Resurgent’s David Thornton reported. “The capitalization of the word was used in the advisory for emphasis.”

The reason? “The flaw in the DPS report is that there was no effort to determine whether the voters who had records indicating that they were noncitizens were still noncitizens at the time they voted,” Thornton added. “Critics of the report point out that the voters could have been naturalized before they registered to vote.”

Columnist John Daniel Davidson has the numbers, revealing that nearly 180,000 noncitizens in Texas became citizens in only three years from 2015 through 2017. The records to which Paxson referred date back to 1996, and as Davidson rightly asserts, “Since then, millions of noncitizen Texas residents have become naturalized U.S. citizens.”

Chad Dunn, a Houston elections lawyer and general counsel to the Texas Democratic Party, inadvertently gets to the real story here, noting a lawsuit filed against the state’s voter ID law contained testimony asserting that voter databases “are such a mess that they couldn’t tell anything meaningful from them.”

Section 8 of the National Voting Rights Act (NRVA) mandates that states “conduct a general program that makes a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists.” Yet previous administrations have taken a decidedly different approach to enforcing that statute. The Bush administration’s DOJ was fairly aggressive, accusing 14 states of noncompliance, ultimately filling civil complaints against four of them along with one city. Three states, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, and the city of Philadelphia settled with the DOJ and committed to cleaning up their rolls, while a judge ruled that Missouri had already made that effort.

By contrast, the Obama administration took a largely see-no-evil approach, aligning itself with leftist assertions that even well-intentioned purges remove eligible voters by mistake. According to J. Christian Adams, who served in the Voting Rights Section at the DOJ, former Attorney General Eric Holder chose to ignore the provisions laid out in Section 8 of the NRVA.

The Trump administration has reinvigorated the commitment to maintaining voter integrity — sort of. On June 28, the DOJ sent letters to state election officials requesting information related to each state’s compliance with the NRVA. The president himself also convened a commission charged with investigating claims of voter fraud during the 2016 election. Yet the move was resisted by several states and the commission was disbanded.

Moreover, the idea that the Department of Homeland Security would take up where the commission left off was shot down by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen last January.

Thus, while Trump joined the chorus of those bemoaning the findings in Texas, his criticism must be taken with a large grain of salt.

In 2017, 11 states — Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Tennessee — had counties where the number of registered voters exceeds the number of voting-age citizens. In 2019, California signed a settlement agreement with Judicial Watch to clean up voter rolls — for the first time in over 20 years — in a state with a voter a registration rate of approximately 101% of age-eligible citizens.

If there’s a better way to facilitate vote fraud than maintaining indefensibly sloppy voter rolls — by accident or design — one is hard-pressed to imagine what it is, all the assertions of voter “suppression” notwithstanding.

In Texas, Paxson has vowed to investigate and prosecute illegal voting activity, and Texas Secretary of State David Whitley insists his office is “committed to using all available tools under the law to maintain an accurate list of registered voters.”

Every state, along with an increasingly unreliable media — including some conservative sites that could have done a better job researching this story — should make the same commitment to accuracy.

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