Commentary: Despite Liberals’ Hysterical Denials, Aliens are Registering and Voting

People Voting
by Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams


The truth is out there. Aliens are registering and voting in American elections.

For anyone who cares to see it, the truth is available in public records in election offices across the nation. But unfortunately, those who expose the truth about voting by aliens—illegal immigrants or not—are subjected to ridicule and an onslaught from the Left to preserve the broken status quo.

Some would prefer that anyone who documents aliens participating in American elections—especially with the current border crisis—simply disappear.

We both testified recently before the House Administration Committee on this serious and real problem. The reactions of some Democrats on the committee were outlandish. They ignored or belittled the hard evidence we presented.

Instead, the Democrats changed the topic to Donald Trump and hurled inaccurate insults at us. It would all be rank comedy if the topic weren’t so serious.

Our written and oral testimony documented, in all, scores of aliens who registered, and many who voted, sometimes repeatedly, especially in presidential elections.

There is evidence galore, not just sketchy reports of aliens landing in the United States and voting. According to one list, 19 aliens from Italy, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, the Philippines, Panama, South Korea, Poland, Guatemala, Nigeria, and Canada all were prosecuted and convicted in North Carolina for illegally voting in multiple state elections. We brought this to the attention of the House committee members.

There was a Mr. Abdelmounim in Pittsburgh, who wrote a letter to Allegheny County election officials begging to be removed from the voter rolls because, he said, “I was mistakenly registered to vote because I did not understand the questions I was being asked” by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

He wasn’t alone. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 to 20,000 aliens were registered to vote by PennDOT in the past 20 years. This isn’t a rumor; this is an admission by Pennsylvania election officials in litigation brought by one of our organizations.

There are sightings of other aliens by the thousands in Pennsylvania, aliens who voted, including a man named Conroy.  He registered as a Democrat on Oct. 8, 2008, and later voted.  Conroy wrote election officials asking to be removed from the voter rolls, saying, “I did not no [sic] I had to be a U.S. citizen to vot [sic].”

Undeniable Evidence

We presented similar hard, undeniable evidence of aliens voting in California, New Jersey, and, naturally, Chicago. In most instances, the aliens themselves admitted they were ineligible to vote as they begged to be removed from voter rolls.

Many aliens are being registered to vote by election officials even after they answer a question on the voter registration form, “Are You a U.S. Citizen?”—you guessed it—with a “No.” That’s right: Aliens tell election officials they’re not eligible to vote, and they still get registered.

We have collected hundreds of examples of this across the country. We call them “Checkbox No’s.”

One of us told the House committee about the 278 aliens who were discovered in 2011 on the voter roll in Fairfax County, Virginia, after crosschecking the state’s driver’s license records when one of us (von Spakovsky) served on the county’s Electoral Board.

A total of 117 of these confirmed aliens had voted in Virginia elections. They were taken off the voter roll and the Electoral Board forwarded specific information on them to both the county prosecutor and the U.S. Justice Department. They did nothing.

Why wouldn’t Republicans and Democrats both want to solve this problem? The aliens who are registering to vote—sometimes unwittingly because of language barriers—are victims too. Often, third-party registration drives by unsavory actors tell aliens they can register and vote. Sometimes aliens just don’t understand the language in the “motor voter” registration process at the DMV and improperly register.

Once upon a time, preventing aliens from landing on the voter rolls would have been a bipartisan concern with bipartisan solutions.

The aliens who knowingly register to vote are also a problem. Unfortunately, prosecutors are usually too afraid or just uninterested in enforcing the many laws against alien voting. Both state and federal laws prohibit aliens from voting, but the number of prosecutors with the courage to do anything about these clear violations of law in the past decade may be counted on one hand.

In a delightfully deceptive rhetorical trick, the Left converts this lack of prosecutions into evidence that aliens aren’t registering to vote. No prosecutions mean no aliens voting, they say. Better yet, they deflect, saying it is already illegal for aliens to vote, so move along, nothing to see here but swamp gas.

Role of DOJ

The Justice Department, where we both once worked as election attorneys, bears a great deal of the blame. The reason DOJ has failed to prosecute foreign nationals who register and vote is because the agency officials with the power to do so are opposed to enforcing laws they don’t like.

Remember the list of 278 alien voters sent by Fairfax County to the Justice Department? Who was the DOJ official to whom these cases of aliens voting were sent?  Why, it was none other than Jack Smith.

Indeed, the very same “Get Trump” Jack Smith, who is now the special counsel in two investigations of Trump.

At the time, Smith was chief of the Public Integrity Section of the DOJ’s Criminal Division, the section responsible for prosecuting federal election crimes. Apparently, he had no interesting in prosecuting these blatant violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1015 (f) (falsely claiming to be a citizen to register), 18 U.S.C. § 911 (false assertion of citizenship), and 18 U.S.C. § 611 (voting by an alien).

Democrats on the House committee ridiculed another report we brought to their attention as being too old, which shows how far back this problem goes. It’s the official 1998 report of the House Oversight Committee of its investigation into the 1996 election contest between incumbent Rep. Bob Dornan, R-Calif., and Democrat opponent Loretta Sanchez. Sanchez won the election by a margin of only 979 votes, and Dornan mounted a challenge, claiming that aliens had illegally registered and voted.

After comparing the voter registration list to subpoenaed immigration records, the House Oversight Committee found “clear and convincing” evidence that 624 aliens had voted illegally in the Dornan-Sanchez election and circumstantial evidence that another 196 aliens also had done so. Sanchez was declared the winner since, even if you discounted those votes, she still would have won by a narrow margin of legitimate votes.

This is what foreign interference in an election actually looks like.

But as the Oversight Committee pointed out, the old Immigration and Naturalization Service’s database had records only on “documented” aliens. If this many documented aliens had registered and voted in this one congressional race, “how many illegal or undocumented aliens may be registered to vote in Orange County?” asked the House committee.

And the situation in California only has gotten worse, as the state has implemented driver’s licenses for illegal aliens and automatic voter registration. California has one of the worst records in the country of failing to verify and maintain the accuracy of the voter rolls.

Because almost no state even attempts to verify that individuals registering to vote are U.S. citizens—and because the federal government, including both the courts and the executive branch, have put up significant barriers to such verification—we don’t really know how many aliens, whether here legally or illegally, are registering and voting.

Indeed, there is almost no way we can know. Nonetheless, what we do know is very concerning and indicative of a much larger problem.

Seeking Records

Some records touching on alien voting are subject to the National Voter Registration Act’s public disclosure provisions.

Public Interest Legal Foundation has sought, or filed lawsuits to obtain, the official records of aliens who contacted county election officials on their own and asked to be taken off the registration list because they aren’t citizens or were discovered to be aliens through state driver’s license records.

PILF’s findings include:

  • Boston disclosed 70 recent examples of alien voter removals to the foundation in 2024, with 22 voting histories.
  • Since 2014, Virginia reportedly removed more than 11,000 registrants from the voter roll as “declared” noncitizens.
  • Since 2021, government records show 186 voter registrants were “involuntarily purged” over citizenship issues in Pima County, Arizona. From this group, seven are recorded as having cast ballots across two federal and local elections.
  • A North Carolina audit determined that 1,454 registrants didn’t appear to be naturalized before Election Day 2014 and would need to be challenged at the polls. Of those, 89 appeared at polling places, 24 were challenged, and 11 of those challenges were sustained or justified.
  • Since 2015, government records show 222 foreign nationals residing in Maricopa County, Arizona, were removed from the local voter registration roll. Of this group, nine individuals are recorded as having cast 12 ballots across four federal elections.
  • Since 2007, Chicago city records show the sporadic removals of 394 foreign nationals from the voter registration roll. Of this group, 20 individuals are recorded as having cast 85 ballots.
  • Records reveal that 264 individuals reported or confirmed their ineligible status to government officials after registering to vote in San Diego County. In total, these individuals cast 94 ballots, with some votes stretching back to the 1992 presidential election.
  • A total of 139 alien registrations were canceled in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, through self-reporting since 2006. And 27% percent of those aliens cast at least one ballot before being removed from the voter roll.
  • A total of 616 admitted and officially recorded aliens in 11 counties were in New Jersey’s statewide voter registration system. These, however, were only the aliens who essentially self-reported and asked to be removed, 9% of whom also cast ballots before they made that request.

Not Interested?

These are real alien sightings that are part of government records. These are not rumors or speculation. This is hard data of the sort that, in another era, political scientists would be studying.

But not anymore. Academics aren’t as interested in the truth now as they are in the cause. The army of leftist election law professors would rather ignore this irrefutable data and continue spouting, in election law classes and at the Brennan Center, their dog-eared mantra that alien voting hardly ever happens.

Back in Pennsylvania, election officials are still hiding records from the public about the scope of the alien voting problem there and the steps they purportedly are taking to fix it.

Despite losing a federal court lawsuit in which a judge ordered the state to disclose these records, Pennsylvania officials are fighting in the hope of ignoring their statutory obligation to be transparent. They are attempting to conceal documents from the public by hiding every record of the alien registration fix behind attorney-client privilege.

We don’t know how many voted because Pennsylvania created an artificial attorney-client wall around all list-maintenance procedures related to the alien voting mess. This attorney-client wall is now at issue before the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals: Namely, can a state hide list-maintenance records that Congress has said should be made public by simply processing them through a law office?

Heck of a job, Gov. Josh Shapiro! Among the questions being asked by members of the public and Pennsylvania state legislators that election officials are refusing to answer: How many aliens registered, how many voted, who did you pay to fix the problem, and who was responsible for the mess in the first place?

Instead of answering these questions, Pennsylvania election officials are off to the 3rd Circuit seeking to overturn a District Court decision ordering them to provide that information. Again, in another era, everyone would want to fix the problem, not prolong it.

Many of these reports, based on official data received from election officials, raise the same question that the House Oversight Committee asked back in 1998: How many aliens are registered and voting who haven’t contacted election officials and asked to be taken off registration lists? How many aliens haven’t gotten a driver’s license, making it impossible for election officials to use DMV records to find aliens who have registered?

What DHS Could Do

One way to remedy this problem in part is for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to open up the nation’s most comprehensive alien database—a system called Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, or SAVE.

States have a right to SAVE data, but DHS makes it hard for them to obtain it. Some states, such as North Carolina, have created more effective (but still cumbersome) search protocols to verify registration eligibility. But DHS should streamline the entire process and stop putting up bureaucratic obstacles to the use of its database.

Legislative proposals in Congress, such as HR 8281, also called the SAVE Act, seek to address the matter with preregistration proof of citizenship requirements. But at the very minimum, election officials need to stop registering aliens who mark “No” to the citizenship question on the voter application form. If we can’t stop aliens from registering after they tell election officials they’re aliens, it makes you wonder what else election officials are bungling.

Despite what liberals and their allies in the mainstream media say, alien registration and voting is a problem, particularly in close elections, and we have close elections all the time in America.

Anyone who doubts that should look at the database maintained by Public Interest Legal Foundation on the hundreds of elections it has documented that resulted in ties or were decided by only one vote.

It’s about time that something is done about this problem.

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Hans von Spakovsky is the manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative and a senior legal fellow in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. J. Christian Adams is the president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a commissioner on the U.S. Commission for Civil Rights, and a former Justice Department Voting Section attorney.






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