Michigan Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said Tuesday that an estimated 4,000 non-citizens are registered to vote in her state. Her announcement came a day after voting rights advocates and labor unions sued her in federal court Monday over the question of whether she can legally require voters to affirm their U.S. citizenship at their polling places.
Plaintiffs in the case say the question of legitimate citizenship is irrelevant, because voters affirm their citizenship when they register in the first place.
Johnson’s revelation Tuesday, however, demonstrated that thousands have been deemed eligible to vote despite being citizens of other countries.
“If someone is legitimately trying to misrepresent themselves as a citizen in order to interfere with our elections, then what’s to say they won’t misrepresent themselves a second time at the ballot box?” election attorney Jocelyn Benson asked the Detroit News.
Johnson’s estimate of illegal voters in Michigan is based on the state’s access to citizenship information for one-fifth of the population, she told the newspaper.
A study of 58,000 driver’s licenses and state-issued identification cards uncovered 963 non-citizens who were registered to vote.
Michigan Department of State employees also determined that 54 of those 963 already have a voting history, and have voted a total of 95 times.