Sen. Vitter: Deport illegals who vote

Kevin Mooney Kevin is a journalist and investigative reporter for the Commonwealth Foundation in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C.
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Illegal aliens and noncitizens who vote in U.S. elections would be put on an accelerated path toward deportation under new legislation introduced by Republican Louisiana Sen. David Vitter.

While this is a “seemingly common sense proposition” there is currently no law on the books that would make voter fraud a deportable offense for foreign nationals, Vitter told the Daily Caller in an interview.

“While this may sound bizarre to a lot of folks in Washington D.C., illegal aliens and noncitizens have no constitutional right to vote in American elections,” he added in an emailed statement.  “And they certainly shouldn’t influence the outcomes.”

“My bill injects some of that common sense and puts teeth into voter laws so we can uphold the integrity of American elections. Of course we want immigrants to become voters once they become citizens, but our election system and our right to vote are being taken advantage of because of weak enforcement.”

Alleging that President Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) refuses to enforce a key provision of federal law that directs state officials to purge dead and ineligible voters from their rolls, Vitter says he sees a strong potential for voter fraud to occur in states that could help decide both the presidential election, and control of the U.S Senate.

Under Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993, state social welfare agencies are required to offer potential voters registration forms while they seeking other government services. This part of the law is commonly known as “motor voter.”

Under Section 8 of the NVRA, state officials are required to maintain and update voter roles as a safeguard against fraudulent efforts. This means they must purge the rolls of dead voters and any ineligible voters who have moved.

But critics say Attorney General Eric Holder and the political appointees within President Obama’s DOJ have declined to enforce Section 8, which means that the names of ineligible voters will remain on the voter rolls in the upcoming election, Vitter noted.

“The Obama Justice Department is just picking and choosing which voter laws to enforce,” Vitter told TheDC. “They’re quickly becoming a campaign arm for president Obama by allowing some states – especially key swing states – to keep felons, illegal aliens and dead people on their voter rolls, which are clear violations of voter laws.”

Vitter’s proposed bill, The Protect Voter Integrity Act (S.3579), would make it a deportable offense for an illegal alien, or legal non-citizen, to vote in federal elections. Illegals and non-citizens who do vote would also be committing an aggravated felony under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which means they would be subjected to expedited removal from the U.S.

Tom Fitton, the president of the conservative group Judicial Watch, credits Sen. Vitter for calling attention to the Justice Department’s “uneven enforcement” of the NVRA, and for advancing a ballot integrity measure that could help to restore public faith in the electoral process.

“Perceptions matter,” Fitton said. “If people decide not to participate in elections because they perceive that the voter rolls include names of people who should not be registered and that the elections are not fair and clean then that is just as harmful in its own way as actual voter fraud. The U.S. Supreme Court said that’s important not only for elections to be fair and clean, but for the public to have faith that they are.”

According to Judicial Watch, there are a number of states operating in violation of the NVRA’s Section 8 requirements. The list includes Mississippi, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Florida, Alabama, California and Colorado. J

Judicial Watch is working in partnership with True the Vote and the Election Law Center’s J. Christian Adams, a former DOJ attorney, to compel state officials to enforce Section 8 and clean up their voter rolls.

“Any number of these states could decide the presidential election,” Fitton said. “Ohio could decide the election, Pennsylvania could decide the election, the list goes on. We are the first organization to pursue a private right of action under Section 8 to force these states to clean up their voter rolls.”

Judicial Watch and True the Vote have filed lawsuits against state officials in Ohio and Indiana that claim they have failed to update their voter rolls and remove ineligible names in the run up to Election Day. U.S. Census data shows that the number of people on the voter rolls in three Ohio counties and 12 Indiana counties exceeds the number of eligible voters, according to the legal complaints.

Judicial Watch and True the Vote also intervened on behalf of Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who dropped 53,000 dead voters and used a federal immigration database to determine which voters were non-citizens. The Justice Department had sued Florida in an effort to block the voter roll clean-up efforts, but a federal judge ruled in favor of allowing the purge to continue.

Since state officials in both major parties have been operating in violation of Section 8’s anti-voter fraud provisions, it should be evident that ballot integrity concerns cut across party lines, Fitton said. The lawsuits from Judicial Watch and True the Vote name Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, both Republicans.

Instead of moving decisively to update his state’s voter rolls, Ohio’s Secretary Husted has sought guidance from Attorney General Eric Holder, Fitton points out.

“If that’s not a confession of weakness, I don’t know what is,” Fitton said. “In Ohio, it’s Republicans who don’t want to clean up the rolls and in Indiana it’s also Republicans who don’t want to clean up the rolls. In Florida, it was Republicans at the local level who objected to efforts to find out if illegal aliens and other ineligible voters were on the rolls.

“This is not about Republican versus Democrat,” he continued. “It’s about officials who don’t want to do their job because it’s too hard, or too controversial. Or, it’s because there are Republicans and Democrats who like having those extra votes on the rolls because they may need those votes to keep themselves in office.”

Back in Sen. Vitter’s home state of Louisiana, Obama’s DOJ and the National Association of Colored People (NAACP), in partnership with Project Vote, have filed lawsuits based on allegations of “motor voter” violations. The DOJ suit and the NAACP suit were filed just a few months apart.

Judicial Watch says they have obtained documentation that shows the DOJ has been operating in close collusion with left-leaning groups life Project Vote, a former affiliate of ACORN, to advance “motor voter” lawsuits.

“I do support legitimate efforts to get people registered and involved in the electoral process,” Vitter said. “But I don’t support the idea of the Obama Justice Department operating as an arm of the president’s re-election campaign, and I don’t support the idea of selectively enforcing one part of the law, while ignoring another.”