The commonwealth of Virginia has booted 5,556 self-reported non-citizens off the voter rolls since 2011, the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) announced Monday.
Based on information gathered from three lawsuits, multiple record requests and reviews of voter history files across 133 Virginia jurisdictions, the group says that 1,852 non-citizens cast 7,474 votes before being booted from the rolls.
PILF alleged that state and local officials initially refused to turn over records.
“At the instruction of Governor McAuliffe’s political appointees, local election officials spent countless resources to prevent this information from spilling into the open,” PILF president and general counsel J. Christian Adams said in a statement. “Virginia hid critical information that would have improved election integrity while a political operative-turned-governor vetoed numerous proposals that would’ve prevented alien registration and voting. From NoVa to Norfolk and all urban and rural points in between, alien voters are casting ballots with practically no legal consequences in response.”
“In this election year, aliens must not cast illegal ballots, and if they do they must be prosecuted. Let’s pray that Gov. McAuliffe’s veto pen did not invite a close election tainted by fraud,” Adams added.
Despite allegations of a cover-up, Virginia’s Department of Elections has published a yearly report since 2014 on how many non-citizens were removed from the rolls the previous year. (The 2014 report did not provide a number, however.)
The state canceled 404 voters who declared themselves to be a non-citizen from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016, according to the most recent report. It canceled 693 the previous year, and 434 the year before that.
The number of non-citizens who have been booted make up a small percentage of the total 5,529,742 Virginians who were registered to vote in 2016, though statewide and local races have recently been decided by thin margins.
Election officials in the commonwealth are permitted to use the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program to verify citizenship status.
“The Department of Elections (ELECT) has one of the premier list maintenance programs in the country, including routine removal of deceased individuals, people with felony convictions, and individuals who self-identify as non-citizens,” Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortés gave a statement to The Daily Caller Tuesday. “As the PILF report shows, Virginia election officials have been and are continuing to promptly remove individuals who self-identify as non-citizens from the statewide voter registration list in accordance with federal and state law.”
Cortes went on to say, “Beginning in 2013, the Department began publishing an Annual Report on Voter Registration List Maintenance Activities, available here: http://www.elections.virginia.gov/resultsreports/maintenance-reports/. The report details ELECT’s ongoing list maintenance activities, including removals of various ineligible voters, conducted on an ongoing and routine basis to maintain clean and accurate voter rolls in the Commonwealth. In contradiction to PILF’s claims, this report makes clear that ELECT encourages the public consumption and use of this data.”
He added, “As part of the McAuliffe administration’s commitment to transparency, this information, and other information cited by PILF, is readily available on our website. It is hard to ‘uncover’ something that is readily made available to the public on an on-going basis.”
Since 2015, McAuliffe has vetoed eight bills passed by the Virginia legislature to strengthen election integrity.
He vetoed legislation requiring voter registrars to examine potential registration system failures if their rolls surpass local citizen voting age population numbers. McAuliffe also vetoed a bill requiring registrars to compare new voter applications against state and federal databases.
McAuliffe vetoed a bill that would criminalize paying people to register to vote and vetoed another bill that would requires electronic poll books to include a photo of the voter.
The Virginia Democrat also rejected voter ID for those casting absentee ballots, and he panned a bill that would have brought voter identification initiative into the absentee balloting system.
McAuliffe appointees on the Virginia Department of Elections, however, put forth a proposal in 2015 that would have made a claim of citizenship on the voter registration form optional.