It’s time we had proof of citizenship in federal elections. The fundamental right of choosing our representatives is threatened to the extent non-citizens are able to vote. Our elections are now tighter than ever and when a non-citizens votes, like a recipient of Obama’s amnesty for instance, the legitimate vote of a citizen gets cancelled out. This threat has never been more serious than it is today.
Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, recently requested that the Supreme Court hear his case against the federal government for obstructing a democratically-enacted law in his state that makes proof of citizenship a requirement of prospective voters using the federal registration form. Although denied by the federal government from implementing the measure, such a requirement is part of the secretary’s general mandate.
The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) requires that secretaries of state “ensure that accurate and current voter registration rolls are maintained” and that the integrity of the electoral process be protected. But when Kobach requested the federal Election Assistance Commission to amend his state’s version of the federal voter registration form to include citizenship-proof, he was told that such a measure wasn’t necessary and that he had “a myriad of means available to enforce  citizenship requirements.”
None of the alternatives, however, are remotely adequate for a country that in five years will have a foreign-born population of 50 million, most of whom cannot vote but have the fullest ability and every incentive to vote. Considering the foreign-born population was 18 million when the NVRA was enacted in 1992 and the illegal alien population has since quadrupled, the burden put on our secretaries of state is unprecedented and the only truly effective and efficient way of protecting citizen rights is an upfront proof-of-citizenship measure.
Kobach’s state of Kansas has a DAPA-eligible population of 30,000 and a DACA-eligible population of 10,000. For Arizona, a co-plaintiff in the case, those figures are 118,000 and 46,000, respectively. If the current injunction on DAPA is lifted, those recipients will get all the basics to register to vote, such as a social security number and a driver’s license.
They’ll also have every incentive to vote, particularly in elections where a candidate or ballot measure offers to extend current or create future deferred action benefits or make their current “temporary” status permanent. The same goes for other illegal aliens in states where benefits earmarked for them are being debated.
The “alternative means” the EAC demanded Kobach use in finding ineligible voters was largely the cross-checking of voter rolls against several state and federal databases. They made these demands even though both Kansas and Arizona had already consciously rejected them for good reason and even though liberal groups themselves say such methods are inadequate and create a risk of inadvertent removal of eligible voters.
Groups like Obama’s former Chicago employer, Project Vote, have noted that the information on DMV databases, for instance, can lag that found on voter rolls and that the person in question could have become naturalized since getting their license. The Soros-funded Migration Policy Institute has previously charged that cross-checking voter rolls with DHS’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system also to be inadequate. Another one of EAC’s ‘alternative means,’ the SAVE database, provides immigration status to agencies that administer certain benefits programs. But since illegal aliens by definition have no immigration records, it would be impossible to use this option to identify illegal alien voters.
It must be said these groups don’t want proof-of-citizenship requirements either. Similar organizations like La Raza (whose former senior vice president, Cecilia Munoz, is White House domestic policy advisor) actually encourage non-citizen voting because they know half of today’s immigrants are Hispanic and reliably vote 2-to-1 Democrat. That’s also why, like the EAC, they cry discrimination when citizens demand that voter integrity be protected (83 percent of Kansans and 56 percent of Arizonans who voted supported the measures). But considering our unprecedented non-citizen numbers and tight elections, shouldn’t it be efforts to thwart measures that protect citizen rights that be called discriminatory? Or anti-citizen?
Most problematic for database cross-checking in general is that it fails to ensure that non-citizens are removed from voter rolls before a fraudulent offsetting vote is already cast. Only citizenship proof can protect voters before the damage is done. As a Florida district court said after the DOJ charged that state with “discrimination” for trying to purge non-citizens from its voter rolls: “For noncitizens, the state’s duty is to maintain an accurate voting list… A state can and should do that on the front end, blocking a noncitizen from registering in the first place.”
The same can be said for the threat of prosecution and deportation, which was also raised by the EAC as well as liberal groups in the lower court proceedings. Like using cross-checking to find ineligible registered voters, prosecution cannot remedy a citizen’s cancelled-vote and isn’t even enforced anyway. Meanwhile, the risk of deportation apparently isn’t a big worry for a lot of illegal aliens. Today, we see them canvassing in elections, openly protesting immigration enforcement measures, agitating for amnesty and causing civil disobedience, testifying in congressional hearings (next to ICE agents no less), making documentaries about themselves, and getting invited to the White House. The threat of deportation is clearly no longer a deterring factor and this is certainly the case now with Obama’s “new enforcement priorities” memo which says only those who threaten national security or who’ve been charged with a felony (not common for voter fraud when charges are made) are a top priority.
Ungoverned immigration along with lack of enforcement of our voting laws is seriously threatening the rights of citizens. Just like legal green card applicants who’ve had their wait-times blown out to make way for Obama’s illegal “dreamers”, American citizens today are being relegated to the back of the bus. Polls show a big leap in citizens wanting proof of citizenship in voter registration, yet no state has it. No doubt this is connected with polls showing that only 39% of voters feel confident with our electoral system. We don’t even have confidence in the government enforcing black letter law, how are we expected to have faith in an electoral system that relies solely on an “honor code.” The time for proof of citizenship in federal elections is now.
Dale Wilcox is Executive Director and General Counsel of the Immigration and Reform Law Institute, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Kris Kobach.