Lawsuit Seeks End to ‘Lawless’ Noncitizen Voting in Pennsylvania
Lawsuit Seeks End to ‘Lawless’ Noncitizen Voting in Pennsylvania

By Naveen Athrappully

The conservative advocacy group America First Legal (AFL) filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Department of State, seeking to end a directive that allows noncitizens to vote in state and federal elections.

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 requires that an individual applying to vote must mention a current and valid driver’s license and the last four digits of their Social Security number on the voter application form.

HAVA mandates that local election officials confirm the numbers are valid and current by using available databases.

“However, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania maintains a voter registration system that blatantly violates this federal law,” the May 21 complaint alleges.

HAVA prohibits a state from accepting or processing a voter application registration that does not fulfill its identity proof provisions.

In 2018, the Secretary of the Commonwealth issued a “HAVA Matching Directive” which states that a voter registration application “may not be rejected” solely based on the fact that an applicant’s driver’s license and Social Security number do not match any database.

Under the directive, the Secretary of the Commonwealth asked “all 67 county boards of election to ignore HAVA’s verification mandate and to register any applicant” to vote even if the individual does not fulfill identification requirements.

“This lawless directive does not just violate federal law; it creates a regime where an untold number of ineligible voters, including non-citizens, can register to vote in all state and federal elections in the Commonwealth,” the lawsuit said.

In the HAVA directive, the Pennsylvania Department of State cited a previous case to argue that HAVA’s data comparison process was intended only for storing and managing the official list of registered voters. HAVA was not supposed to be used as “a restriction on voter eligibility,” it stated.

The department asked counties to ensure their procedures “comply with state and federal law” while implementing the HAVA directive.

This meant that if there are “no independent grounds” to reject a voter application other than a non-match of identification, the application cannot be rejected and should be “processed like all other applications.”

AFL asked to repeal the HAVA Matching Directive and replace it with a regulation in compliance with HAVA.

Gene Hamilton, America First Legal executive director, pointed out that Americans across the nation have “legitimate concerns” about the security of elections.

And yet, he said, Pennsylvania adopted and maintained a voter registration process that “clearly and unambiguously violates basic federal law intended to provide a minimum baseline of security.”

He called on the Secretary of State to abandon the “unlawful practice” and comply with the federal rules to ensure fraud doesn’t occur.

The Epoch Times reached out to the Pennsylvania State Department for comment.

Noncitizen Voting Issue

According to the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), foreign nationals registering to vote in U.S. election races is not uncommon.

PILF data show that Pima County, Arizona, canceled 186 voter registrations due to citizenship issues between 2021 and 2023, with seven having voting histories.

Similarly, 222 voter registrations in Maricopa County, Arizona, were canceled between 2015 and 2023 for similar issues, with nine people having a history of casting votes.

“The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (Motor Voter) provides the most common pathway for foreign nationals to get registered to vote. The 24 states plus D.C. which automate Motor Voter, not giving the immigrant the chance to decline registration, exacerbate the problem,” PILF said.

On May 8, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) introduced the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act, or S.4292, which seeks to ensure that only American citizens take part in federal elections.

The Act requires proof of citizenship during voter registration, outlining acceptable documentation to prove citizenship. States are required to set up alternative verification processes for citizens who do not have standard documents.

The legislation also mandates that states purge noncitizens from their voter rolls. Penalties would be instituted for knowingly registering noncitizens as voters.

Sen. Lee pointed out that illegal immigrants and other noncitizens are being improperly registered as voters, allowing them to cast votes in federal elections.

This “foreign election interference” must be stopped, especially since trust in the voting process is now more important than ever, he said.

“Voting is both a sacred right and responsibility of American citizenship, and allowing the people of other nations access to our elections is a grave blow to our security and self-governance.”

Multiple left-leaning groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, American Humanist Association, Democracy Matters, National Action Network, and Stand Up America oppose the SAVE Act.

In a May 16 letter to Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) and Rep. Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.), members of the Committee on House Administration, the organizations called the SAVE Act a “dangerous departure” from ensuring that all Americans have the freedom to vote.

Requiring documentation of American citizenship is aimed at “fear-mongering and divisive rhetoric,” they claimed.

Voters in every state are already required to verify their citizenship status when registering to vote, they said. As such, the SAVE Act is “unnecessary and dangerous.” The purpose of the Act was to make voting “more difficult, particularly for voters of color.”

A congressional hearing on noncitizen voting was held on May 16. Rep. Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.) said there was no proof of noncitizens voting in elections and that there should be a focus on “MAGA Republicans howling about this nonissue.”

Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) pointed out that 100 noncitizens were recently identified in voter rolls in Ohio. He called for strict policies to ensure that only Americans vote in elections considering that 7 million illegal immigrants have entered the United States under the Biden administration.

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