In 2005, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that up
to 3 percent of the 30,000 individuals called for jury duty from
voter registration rolls over a two-year period in just one U.S.
district court were not U.S. citizens. While that may not seem
like many, just 3 percent of registered voters would have been more
than enough to provide the winning presidential vote margin in
Florida in 2000. Indeed, the Census Bureau estimates that
there are over a million illegal aliens in Florida, and the U.S.
Department of Justice (DOJ) has prosecuted more non-citizen voting
cases in Florida than in any other state.
Florida is not unique. Thousands of non-citizens are registered
to vote in some states, and tens if not hundreds of thousands in
total may be present on the voter rolls nationwide. These numbers
are significant: Local elections are often decided by only a
handful of votes, and even national elections have likely been
within the margin of the number of non-citizens illegally
registered to vote.
Yet there is no reliable method to determine the number of
non-citizens registered or actually voting because most laws to
ensure that only citizens vote are ignored, are inadequate, or are
systematically undermined by government officials. Those who ignore
the implications of non-citizen registration and voting either are
willfully blind to the problem or may actually favor this form of
Americans may disagree on many areas of immigration policy,
but not on the basic principle that only citizens-and not
non-citizens, whether legally present or not-should be able to vote
in elections. Unless and until immigrants become citizens, they
must respect the laws that bar non-citizen voting. To keep
non-citizens from diluting citizens' votes, Immigration and
election officials must cooperate far more effectively than they
have to date, and state and federal officials must increase their
efforts to enforce the laws against non-citizen voting that are
already on the books.
An Enduring Problem
Illegal voting by immigrants in America is nothing new.
Almost as long as there have been elections, there have been
Tammany Halls trying to game the ballot box. Well into the 20th
century, the political machines asserted their ascendancy on
Election Day, stealing elections in the boroughs of New York and
the wards of Chicago. Quite regularly, Irish immigrants were
lined up and counted in canvasses long before the term "citizen"
ever applied to them-and today it is little different. Yet in the
debates over what to do about the 8 million to 12 million illegal
aliens estimated to be in the United States, there has been
virtually no discussion of how to ensure that they (and
millions of legal aliens) do not register and vote in
citizenship is and should be a basic requirement for voting.
citizenship is a legal requirement to vote in federal and state
elections, except for a small number of local
elections in a few jurisdictions.
Some Americans argue that alien voting is a nonexistent
problem or dismiss reported cases of non-citizen voting as
unimportant because, they claim, there are no cases in which
non-citizens "intentionally" registered to vote or voted
"while knowing that they were ineligible." Even if this latter
claim were true-which it is not-every vote cast by a non-citizen,
whether an illegal alien or a resident alien legally in the
country, dilutes or cancels the vote of a citizen and thus
disenfranchises him or her. To dismiss such stolen votes because
the non-citizens supposedly did not know they were acting illegally
when they cast a vote debases one of the most important Rights of
The evidence is indisputable that aliens, both legal and
illegal, are registering and voting in federal, state, and local
elections. Following a mayor's race in Compton, California, for
example, aliens testified under oath in court that they voted
in the election. In that case, a candidate who was
elected to the city council was permanently disqualified from
holding public office in California for soliciting non-citizens to
register and vote. The fact that non-citizens registered
and voted in the election would never have been discovered except
for the fact that it was a very close election and the
incumbent mayor, who lost by less than 300 votes, contested
Similarly, a 1996 congressional race in California may have been
stolen by non-citizen voting. Republican incumbent
Bob Dornan was defending himself against a spirited challenger,
Democrat Loretta Sanchez. Sanchez won the election by just 979
votes, and Dornan contested the election in the U.S. House of
Representatives. His challenge was dismissed after an investigation
by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
turned up only 624 invalid votes by non-citizens who were present
in the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
database because they had applied for citizenship, as well as
another 124 improper absentee ballots. The investigation,
however, could not detect illegal aliens, who were not in
the INS records.
The Oversight Committee pointed out the elephant in the
room: "[I]f there is a significant number of 'documented
aliens,' aliens in INS records, on the Orange County voter
registration rolls, how many illegal or undocumented aliens may be
registered to vote in Orange County?" There is a
strong possibility that, with only about 200 votes determining the
winner, enough undetected aliens registered
and voted to change the outcome of the election. This is
particularly true since the California Secretary of State
complained that the INS refused his request to check the entire
Orange County voter registration file, and no complete check of all
of the individuals who voted in the congressional race was ever
The "Quick Ticket"
Non-citizen voting is likely growing at the same rate as the
alien population in the United States; but because of deficiencies
in state law and the failure of federal agencies to comply with
federal law, there are almost no procedures in place that allow
election officials to detect, deter, and prevent non-citizens from
registering and voting. Instead, officials are largely dependent on
an "honor system" that expects aliens to follow the law. There
are numerous cases showing the failure of this honor system.
The frequent claim that illegal aliens do not register in
order "to stay below the radar" misses the fact that
many aliens apparently believe that the potential benefit of
registering far outweighs the chances of being caught and
prosecuted. Many district attorneys will not prosecute what they
see as a "victimless and non-violent" crime that is not a
On the benefit side of the equation, a voter registration
card is an easily obtainable document-they are routinely issued
without any checking of identification-that an illegal alien
can use for many different purposes, including obtaining a
driver's license, qualifying for a job, and even voting. The Immigration Reform and Control
Act of 1986, for example, requires employers to verify that all
newly hired employees present documentation verifying their
identity and legal authorization to work in the United States. In essence, this means that new
employees have to present evidence that they are either U.S.
citizens or legal aliens with a work permit. The federal I-9
form that employers must complete for all new employees
provides a list of documentation that can be used to establish
identity-including a voter registration card.
How aliens view the importance of this benefit was illustrated
by the work of a federal grand jury in 1984 that found large
numbers of aliens registered to vote in Chicago. As the grand
jury reported, many aliens "register to vote so that they can
obtain documents identifying them as U.S. citizens" and have "used
their voters' cards to obtain a myriad of benefits, from social
security to jobs with the Defense Department." The U.S. Attorney at the time
estimated that there were at least 80,000 illegal aliens registered
to vote in Chicago, and dozens were indicted and convicted for
registering and voting.
The grand jury's report resulted in a limited cleanup of the
voter registration rolls in Chicago, but just one year later, INS
District Director A. D. Moyer testified before a state legislative
task force that 25,000 illegal and 40,000 legal aliens remained on
the rolls in Chicago. Moyer told the Illinois Senate that
non-citizens registered so they could get a voter registration card
for identification, adding that the card was "a quick ticket into
the unemployment compensation system." An alien from
Belize, for example, testified that he and his two sisters were
able to register easily because they were not asked for any
identification or proof of citizenship and lied about where they
were born. After securing registration, he voted in Chicago.
Once such aliens are registered, of course, they receive the
same encouragement to vote from campaigns' and parties'
get-out-the-vote programs and advertisements that all other
registered voters receive. Political actors have no way to
distinguish between individuals who are properly registered and
non-citizens who are illegally registered.
A Failure to Cooperate
Obtaining an accurate assessment of the size of this problem is
difficult. There is no systematic review of voter registration
rolls by states to find non-citizens, and the relevant federal
agencies-in direct violation of federal law-refuse to cooperate
with state election officials seeking to verify the
citizenship status of registered voters. Federal
immigration law requires these agencies to "respond to an
inquiry by a Federal, State, or local government agency, seeking to
verify or ascertain the citizenship or Immigration status of any
individual within the jurisdiction of the agency for any purpose
authorized by law, by providing the requested verification or
status information," regardless of any other provision of
federal law, such as the Privacy Act. However, examples of
refusal to cooperate are legion:
- In declining to cooperate with a request by Maryland to check
the citizenship status of individuals registered to vote there, a
spokesman for the U.S. citizenship and Immigration Service
(CIS) mistakenly declared that the agency could not release that
information because "it is important to safeguard the
confidentiality of each legal immigrant, especially in light of the
federal Privacy Act and the Immigration and Nationality Act."
- One surprising result of this policy: In 2004, a guilty verdict
in a murder trial in Maryland was jeopardized because a non-citizen
was discovered on the jury-which had been chosen from the
- In 2005, Sam Reed, the Secretary of State of Washington, asked
the CIS to check the immigration status of registered voters
in Washington; the agency refused to cooperate.
- A request from the Fulton County, Georgia, Board of
Registration and elections in 1998 to the old Immigration and
Naturalization Service to check the Immigration status of 775
registered voters was likewise refused for want of a notarized
consent from each voter because of "federal privacy act"
- In 1997, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office in Dallas were
investigating voting by non-citizens. They sent a computerized
tape of the names of individuals who had voted to the INS
requesting a check against INS records, but the INS refused to
cooperate with the criminal investigation. An INS
official was quoted as saying that the INS bureaucracy did not
"want to open a Pandora's Box…. If word got out that this is
a substantial problem, it could tie up all sorts of manpower. There
might be a few thousand [illegal voters] in Dallas, for
example, but there could be tens of thousands in places like New
York, Chicago or Miami."
These incidents show that the CIS and U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE), the successor agencies to the INS,
are either ignorant of federal legal requirements or
deliberately ignoring them. An inquiry by a state or local election
official regarding voter eligibility based on citizenship falls
squarely within their statutory authority.
To be sure, CIS and ICE databases are not comprehensive; they
contain information only about legal immigrants who have applied
for the documentation necessary to be in the United States and
illegal immigrants who have been detained. But even access to that
information would be a big step forward for election officials in
their attempts to try to clean up registration lists and find those
aliens who are illegally registered and voting in elections.
The Honor System
The refusal of federal agencies to obey the law compels local
election officials to rely almost entirely on the "honor
system" to keep non-citizens from the polls. As Maryland's state
election administrator has complained, "There is no way of
checking…. We have no access to any information about
who is in the United States legally or otherwise."
Most discoveries of non-citizens on the registration rolls
are therefore accidental. Though the Department of Justice has no
procedures in place for a systematic investigation of these types
of criminal violations, in just a three year period, it
prosecuted and convicted more than a dozen non-citizens who
registered and voted in federal elections in Alaska, Florida,
the District of Columbia, and Colorado.  Among them was an
alien in southern Florida, Rafael Velasquez, who not only voted,
but even ran for the state legislature. Eight of the 19
September 11 hijackers were registered to vote in either Virginia
or Florida-registrations that were probably obtained when they
applied for driver's licenses.
In 1994, Mario Aburto Martinez, a Mexican national and the
assassin of Mexican presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio,
was found to have registered twice to vote in California. A random sample of just 10 percent
of the 3,000 Hispanics registered to vote in California's 39th
Assembly District by an independent group "revealed phony addresses
and large numbers of registrants who admitted they were not U.S.
citizens." This problem may be partially
explained by the testimony of a Hispanic member of the Los Angeles
Police Department who had been a volunteer for the
California-based Southwest Voter Registration Education
Project. When she reported to her supervisor that her fellow
volunteers were not asking potential voters whether they were
citizens, she was reprimanded "and told that she was not to ask
that question…only whether the person wished to register to
vote." Similarly, the Dornan-Sanchez
investigation produced an affidavit from a non-citizen stating that
the Sanchez campaign's field director, an elected member of
the Anaheim Board of Education, told him that it "didn't matter"
that he was not a U.S. citizen-he should register and vote
In 2006, Paul Bettencourt, Voter Registrar for Harris County,
Texas, testified before the U.S. Committee on House
Administration that the extent of illegal voting by foreign
citizens in Harris County was impossible to determine but "that it
has and will continue to occur." Twenty-two percent of county
residents, he explained, were born outside of the United States,
and more than 500,000 were non-citizens. Bettencourt noted that he
cancelled the registration of a Brazilian citizen in 1996 after she
acknowledged on a jury summons that she was not a U.S. citizen.
Despite that cancellation, however, "She then reapplied in
1997, again claiming to be a U.S. citizen, and was again given a
voter card, which was again cancelled. Records show she was able to
vote at least four times in general and primary elections."
In 2005, Bettencourt's office turned up at least 35 cases in
which foreign nationals applied for or received voter cards, and he
pointed out that Harris County regularly had "elections decided by
one, two, or just a handful of votes." In fact, a Norwegian
citizen was discovered to have voted in a state legislative race in
Harris County that was decided by only 33 votes. Nor is this
problem unique to Harris County. Recent reports indicate that
hundreds of illegal aliens registered to vote in Bexar County,
Texas, and that at least 41 of them have voted, some several times,
in a dozen local, state, and federal elections.
In 2005, Arizona passed Proposition 200, which requires anyone
registering to vote to provide "satisfactory evidence of
United States citizenship," such as a driver's license, a birth
certificate, a passport, naturalization documents, or any
other documents accepted by the federal government to prove
citizenship for employment purposes. The state issues a "Type F"
driver's license to individuals who are legally present in the
United States but are not citizens. Since Proposition 200 took
effect, 2,177 non-citizens applying for such licenses have
attempted to register to vote.  Another 30,000 have
been denied registration because they could not produce evidence of
The constitutionality of Arizona's requirement is currently
being litigated in federal court. The district court hearing
the case refused to issue a preliminary injunction against
enforcement of the law, and the Supreme Court vacated a preliminary
injunction issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Trial is scheduled for July 2008. The plaintiffs will have to
convince the presiding judge that the very same proof of
citizenship required by the federal government before an individual
can work is somehow unlawful when imposed by a state before a
person can vote.
Some non-citizen registrations can be detected through the jury
process. The vast majority of state and federal courts draw their
jury pools from voter registration lists, and the jury
questionnaires used by court clerks ask potential jurors whether
they are U.S. citizens. In most states, however, and throughout the
federal court system, court clerks rarely notify local election
officials that potential jurors have sworn under oath that they are
not U.S. citizens. In jurisdictions that share that
information, election officials routinely discover
non-citizens on the voter rolls. For example, the district
attorney in Maricopa County, Arizona, testified that after
receiving a list of potential jurors who admitted they were
not citizens, he indicted 10 who had registered to vote. (All had
sworn on their registration forms that they were U.S.
citizens.) Four had actually voted in elections. The district
attorney was investigating 149 other cases.
The county recorder in Maricopa County had also received
inquiries from aliens seeking verification, for their
citizenship applications, that they had not registered or voted.
Thirty-seven of those aliens had registered to vote, and 15 of them
had actually voted. As the county's district attorney explained,
these numbers come "from a relatively small universe of
individuals-legal immigrants who seek to become citizens….
These numbers do not tell us how many illegal immigrants have
registered and voted." Even these small
numbers, though, could have been enough to sway an election. A
2004 Arizona primary election, explained the district attorney, was
determined by just 13 votes. Clearly, non-citizens who illegally
registered and voted in Maricopa County could have determined
the outcome of the election.
These numbers become more alarming when one considers that only
a very small percentage of registered voters are called for
jury duty in most jurisdictions. The California Secretary of
State reported in 1998 that 2,000 to 3,000 of the individuals
summoned for jury duty in Orange County each month claimed an
exemption from jury service because they were not U.S. citizens,
and 85 percent to 90 percent of those individuals were summoned
from the voter registration list, rather than Department of Motor
Vehicles (DMV) records. While some of those individuals may
have simply committed perjury to avoid jury service, this
represents a significant number of potentially illegal voters:
20,400 to 30,600 non-citizens summoned from the voter
registration list over a one-year period.
Helping Aliens Vote
Under the Constitution, an individual's eligibility to vote is
left mostly to the states. Article I and the 17th Amendment provide
that the electors for Members of Congress shall have the
qualifications for electors of the most numerous branch of the
state legislatures. Article II provides that
presidential electors shall be chosen in the manner directed
by state legislatures. All of the states require voters to
be U.S. citizens to vote in state elections, and 18
U.S.C. § 611 makes it a crime for "any alien to vote in any
election held solely or in part for the purpose of electing a
candidate for the office of President, Vice President, Presidential
elector," or Congress.
Other federal laws authorize the Justice Department to
prosecute non-citizens for registering and voting in elections. The
National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) requires
individuals registering to vote to affirm eligibility
requirements, including citizenship. The Help America
Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) added a specific citizenship question
to the federal voter registration form. Since citizenship is
clearly material to a voter's eligibility, aliens can be prosecuted
for providing false registration information and voting under
the NVRA. They can also be prosecuted under
18 U.S.C. § 1015(f), which criminalizes making a false
statement or claim about citizenship "in order to register to vote
or to vote in any Federal, State, or local election (including an
initiative, recall, or referendum)," and under 18 U.S.C. §
911, which prohibits making a false claim of citizenship.
The NVRA has contributed to the problem of aliens registering to
vote. The largest source of voter registrations are state programs
created under Section 5 of the NVRA, known as "Motor Voter," which
requires all states to allow individuals who apply for a driver's
license to register to vote at the same time. States such
as Maryland, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and
Washington allow illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses, and
other states, such as Tennessee, provide licenses to resident
To comply with Motor Voter, states automatically offer voter
registration to all applicants for a driver's license. Most
government employees do so even when they know the applicants are
not citizens because these employees do not want to face claims
that they discriminated based on ethnicity, and they believe it is
the responsibility of election officials, not state DMVs, to
determine the eligibility of voter registration applicants. Yet
when license bureaus submit completed registration forms to state
election officials, they often omit the citizenship status of
Savvy politicians may already have taken advantage of this
state of affairs. During the Clinton Administration, for example,
the Justice Department allegedly forced states to offer voter
registration to non-citizens. In response, the Texas Secretary
of State reportedly asked his attorney general to sue the
Confusion still reigns in the states. In 2004, a Maryland state
legislator contacted the DOJ to express his concern that the
Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles was allowing non-citizens
applying for driver's licenses to register to vote. When he
asked the DMV to stop, he was told that it was required by the NVRA
to offer all driver's license applicants the opportunity to
register to vote. The Justice Department quickly sent the Maryland
delegate a letter pointing out that the NVRA had no such
requirement and that federal law makes it a crime for a non-citizen
to register. The letter went on to say that a state that issues
licenses to non-citizens should not offer such an individual
the right to register to vote. Nonetheless, there
is no evidence that the Maryland DMV has changed its
procedures to deter non-citizens from registering, and
Maryland officials recently testified that they were issuing 2,000
driver's licenses per week to undocumented aliens.
Utah, which issues licenses to illegal aliens, switched to a
two-tiered system that issues a visibly different "driving
privilege" card to illegal aliens after a limited 2005 audit by the
state's Legislative Auditor General. The audit found that hundreds
of illegal aliens had registered to vote when they obtained their
Utah driver's licenses-and at least 14 of them had voted. The audit used a small sample; Utah
State Senator Mark Madsen said that an extrapolation of the audit
numbers suggested that 5,000 to 7,000 aliens were registered to
This problem has been exacerbated by many states' interpretation
of a HAVA provision that requires a citizenship question on the
federal mail-in voter registration form. The provision, in 42
U.S.C. § 15483, requires the following question: "Are you a
citizen of the United States of America?" If an applicant fails to
answer this question, HAVA provides that the local election
official must notify the applicant of the failure and "provide the
applicant with an opportunity to complete the form in a timely
manner to allow for the completion of the registration form" prior
to the election. Under the threat of lawsuits by
organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, states
such as Ohio, Iowa, and South Dakota will register an individual
even if he fails to answer the citizenship question. The Justice
Department so far has failed to sue these states to force
compliance with HAVA.
HAVA also imposes an identification requirement for
first-time voters who register by mail. Many states,
including California, have interpreted this provision to apply only
to registration forms received through the U.S. mail, so the
requirement is easily avoided by turning in the registration form
directly to election officials. Additionally, documents named
in the law as acceptable forms of identification for voter
registration, such as utility bills and bank statements, are easily
obtained by non-citizens. HAVA also requires applicants to
provide a driver's license number or the last four digits of
their Social Security number but allows an individual to
register even if he has neither number.
There are several changes that states and the federal
government can and should make to prevent non-citizens from
registering and voting illegally in state and federal
- Congress and state legislatures should require all federal and
state courts to notify local election officials when
individuals summoned for jury duty from voter registration rolls
are excused because they are not United States citizens.
United States Attorneys are already under a similar obligation:
Under the NVRA, they must send information on felony convictions to
local election officials so that the felons can be removed from
voter registration rolls.
- All states should require anyone who registers to vote to
provide proof of U.S. citizenship. This requirement should be
identical to the federal requirement of proof for
- ICE and CIS should comply with federal law and confirm the
citizenship status of registered voters when they receive requests
for such information from state and local election officials. If
the agencies decline to do so, they should be investigated by
Congress and the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) for their failure to follow the law.
- The database, known as E-Verify, that is being used by U.S.
employers to check the citizenship status of prospective employees
should be made available to election officials and administrators
of the statewide registration databases required by HAVA so that
election officials can run database comparisons to identify
registered voters who are not citizens.
- The DOJ should file enforcement actions against all states that
allow an individual to register to vote when he or she has not
answered the citizenship question on the voter registration
form required by HAVA.
- Local district attorneys must be made to realize that
registration and voting by non-citizens are offenses against
the basic principles of our democratic system and that such
cases must be prosecuted. CIS and ICE should also realize that all
information they have on non-citizen voting-such as when immigrants
applying for citizenship admit they have registered and voted or
when illegal aliens who are detained are found to possess voter
registration cards or other documents indicating they are
registered to vote-must be referred to the DHS for institution
of removal proceedings, to the DOJ for prosecution, and to the
relevant election officials so that the individual can be
struck from the registration rolls.
- The DOJ should conduct a survey of all state DMVs to determine
which ones have rules and procedures in place that prevent
non-citizens who apply for driver's licenses from registering
to vote and then file enforcement actions against any state that
refuses to comply with this requirement.
- A voter registration card should not be a valid identifying
document to obtain a driver's license or employment.
America has always been a nation of immigrants, and we
remain today the most welcoming nation in the world. Newly minted
citizens assimilate and become part of the American culture
very quickly. Requiring that our laws-all of our laws- be
complied with requires no more of an alien than it does of a
citizen. It is a violation of both state and federal law for
immigrants who are not citizens to vote in state and federal
elections. These violations effectively disenfranchise
legitimate voters whose votes are diluted, and they must be
Election officials have an obligation not only to enforce those
laws, but also to implement registration and election
procedures that do not allow those laws to be bypassed or ignored.
Anything less encourages contempt for the law and our election
process. Lax enforcement of election laws permits individuals who
have not entered the American social compact or made a commitment
to the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and the U.S. cultural and
political heritage to participate in elections and potentially
change the outcome of closely contested races that affect how all
Americans are governed.
Hans A. von Spakovsky served as a
member of the Federal Election Commission for two years. Before
that, he was Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil
Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he specialized in
voting and election issues. He also served as a county election
official in Georgia for five years as a member of the Fulton County
Board of Registration and Elections.
 Gov't Accountability Office, Elections:
Additional Data Could Help State and Local Election Officials
Maintain Accurate Voter Registration Lists 42 (2005).
 Steven Camarota, Ctr. for Immigr. Stud.,
Immigrants in the United States, 2007: A Profile of America's
Foreign-Born Population 31 (2007).
 For example, non-citizens can vote in
local elections in Chevy Chase and Takoma Park, Maryland.
See Robert Redding, Jr., Purging Illegal Aliens from
Voter Rolls Not Easy; Maryland Thwarted in Tries So Far, Wash.
Times, Aug. 23, 2004.
 Another problem not discussed in this
paper is the inclusion by the Census of non-citizens, legal and
illegal, in apportionment, which leads to the misallocation of
congressional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. This
causes states such as Indiana, Michigan, Montana, Oklahoma,
Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Mississippi to have one less
seat than they should and states such as Texas, New York,
California, and Florida to gain seats they would not have if only
citizens were counted. This represents an obvious and clear Equal
Protection problem-a violation of the principle of "one man, one
vote"-since it takes fewer votes to be elected to Congress in
districts with large numbers of non-citizens. See Dudley L.
Poston, Jr., Steven A. Camarota, & Amanda K. Baumle, Ctr. for
Immigr. Stud., Remaking the Political Landscape: The Impact of
Illegal and Legal Immigration on Congressional Apportionment 1
 Daren Briscoe, Non-citizens Testify
They Voted in Compton Elections, L.A. Times, Jan. 23, 2002, at
 A judge's removal of the mayor from
office was later overturned, but the removal of a councilwoman who
participated in non-citizen voter fraud was upheld. See
Bradley v. Perrodin, 106 Cal. App. 4th 1153 (2003), review
denied, 2003 Cal. LEXIS 3586 (Cal. 2003); Robert Greene,
Court of Appeal Upholds Perrodin Victory Over Bradley in
Compton, Metro News-Enter., March 11, 2003; Daren Briscoe, Bob
Pool & Nancy Wride, Judge Voids Compton Vote, Reinstalls
Defeated Mayor, L.A. Times, Feb. 9, 2002.
 Judge Voids Compton Vote, Reinstalls
Defeated Mayor, supra note 9.
 See H.R. Doc. No. 105-416
 The Committee found "clear and
convincing" evidence of 624 non-citizens voting but only
"circumstantial" evidence of another 196 non-citizens voting. Thus,
the Committee did not include the 196 in its tally of invalid
votes. Id. at 15.
 The margin is just 35 votes if one
includes the 196 non-citizens found by the Committee based on
 Press Release, California Sec'y of
State, Jones Releases Report on Orange County Voter Fraud
Investigation (Feb. 3, 1998).
 Richard Hasen, a professor at Loyola
Law School, doubts that illegal aliens register to vote because
"committing a felony for no personal gain is not a wise choice."
Jessica Rocha, Voter Rolls Risky for Aliens: Non-citizens'
Registering Is a Crime; 4 Cases Turn up in N.C., News &
Observer, Dec. 7, 2006.
 Gov't Accountability Office,
supra note 1, at 60.
 In a typical example, voter
registration cards are listed as an acceptable secondary source
document to prove identity when obtaining a driver's license in
Maryland. See Maryland Motor Vehicle Association, Sources of
(last visited July 7, 2008).
 8 U.S.C. § 1324a (2008).
 See In Re Report of the Special
January 1982 Grand Jury 1, No. 82 GJ 1909 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 14,
1984), at 8-9.
 See Douglas Frantz, Vote
Fraud in City Outlined at Hearing, Chi. Trib., Sept. 20, 1983,
at A1; Hans von Spakovsky, The Heritage Foundation, Where There's
Smoke, There's Fire: 100,000 Stolen Votes in Chicago (2008),
available at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Legalissues/lm23.cfm.
 Desiree F. Hicks, Foreigners Landing
on Voter Rolls, Chi. Trib., Oct. 2, 1985.
 8 U.S.C. §§ 1373(a), (c).
Given the requirements of this statute, the initial refusal of the
Justice Department and the INS to comply with "numerous requests
from the Committee and California election officials to provide
citizenship data on individuals" in the Dornan-Sanchez
investigation was inexplicable; the Attorney General either made a
basic legal error or decided, for political reasons, not to
cooperate in an investigation that could have thrown out the
Democratic winner of a congressional race. See H.R. Doc. No.
105-416, at 13 (1998).
 Robert Redding, Purging Illegal
Aliens from Voter Rolls Not Easy; Maryland Thwarted in Tries So
Far, Wash. Times, Aug. 23, 2004.
 See Letter of March 22, 2005,
from Sam Reed to Robert S. Coleman, Director, Seattle District
Office, USCIS (Mar. 22, 2005).
 INS Hampers Probe of Voting by
Foreigners, Prosecutor Says, Houston Chron., Sept. 20, 1997.
The investigation was started when a random check by local INS
agents found 10 non-citizens who had voted in just one 400-person
precinct, and the case was eventually turned over to the local
district attorney for prosecution. The government, however, refused
to expand the probe to cover the full country as requested by the
agents, who claimed that the probe was halted because of the
supervisor's fear of the potential "political ramifications."
See Frank Trejo, Internal Strife Embroils Dallas INS
Office-Local Agents' Whistle-Blowing Leads to Far-Flung
Controversy, Dallas Morning News, March 8, 1998; Dena Bunis,
Dallas INS' Probe of Electorate Echoes Here: Fallout from the
Dornan-Sanchez Inquiry Sparks an Internal INS Debate Over a Texas
Computer-Match Investigation, Orange County Reg., June 5,
 Ruth Larson, Voter-Fraud Probe in
Dallas Runs into INS Roadblock: Agency Denies It Should Have
Further Aided U.S. Attorney, Wash. Times, Sept. 25, 1997.
 On March 1, 2003, the Immigration and
Naturalization Service was split into two different divisions of
the new Department of Homeland Security. USCIS is responsible
for legal immigration and naturalization functions, while ICE is
responsible for enforcing immigration and customs laws,
including against illegal aliens.
 Christina Bellantoni, Little to Stop
Illegal Aliens from Voting, Wash. Times, Sept. 24, 2004, at
 Criminal Div., supra note 3.
 John Fund, Stealing Elections: How
Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy 1 (2004); see also
Kathleen Hunter, States Slow to Give Driver's Licenses to
Illegal Aliens, Stateline.org, July 1, 2004.
 Karen Saranita, The Motor Voter
Myth, Nat'l Rev., Nov. 11, 1996, at 42.
 Affidavit of Nelson Molina, H.R. Doc.
No. 105-416, at 181 (1998). Molina's wife was in the meeting with
the field director and filed a supporting affidavit.
 Non-Citizen Voting and ID
Requirements in U.S. Elections: Hearing Before the Committee on
House Administration, 109th Cong. (2006) (statement of Paul
Bettencourt, Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector and Voter
 Joe Stinebaker, Loophole Lets
Foreigners Illegally Vote; 'Honor System' in Applying Means the
County Can't Easily Track Fraud, Houston Chron., Jan. 16,
 Guillermo Garcia, Voter Fraud Case
Takes a New Twist, Express-News, Sept. 12, 2007; Jim Forsyth,
Hundreds of Non Citizens Have Registered to Vote in Bexar
County, 1200 WOAI, May 16, 2007.
 Interview with Kevin Tyne, Deputy Sec'y
of the State of Arizona (May 27, 2008).
 AZ to Seek Dismissal of Challenge to
Voter ID Law, KTAR 92.9 FM, May 26, 2008.
 See Purcell v. Gonzalez, 549
U.S. 1, 3 (2006).
 AZ to Seek Dismissal of Challenge to
Voter ID Law, supra note 43.
 Securing the Vote: Arizona: Hearing
Before the Committee on House Administration, 109th Cong.
(2006) (statement of Andrew P. Thomas, Maricopa County District
Attorney); see also Transcript of Southwest Conference on
Illegal Immigration, Border Security and Crime, May 16, 2006.
 Press Release, California Sec'y of
State, Official Status Report on Orange County Voter Fraud
Investigation (Feb. 3, 1998).
 U.S. Const., art. I, § 2, amend.
 U.S. Const., art. II, § 1, cl.
 See U.S. Dep't of Just.,
supra note 4, at 66.
 An exception exists if the election is
held partly for some other purpose, the alien is authorized to vote
for such other purpose under a state or local law, and that voting
is conducted "independently of voting" for candidates for federal
offices. 18 U.S.C. § 611 (2008).
 42 U.S.C. §§
1973gg-3(c)(2)(C), 1973gg-5(a)(6)(A)(i), 1973gg-7(b)(2) (2008).
 42 U.S.C. § 15483(b)(4)(A)(i)
 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg-10(2)
 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg-3 (2008).
 Daniel Vock, Tighter License Rules
Hit Illegal Immigrants, Stateline.org, Aug. 24, 2007; Kathleen
Hunter, States Slow to Give Driver's Licenses to Illegal
Aliens, Stateline.org, July 1, 2004.
 Juan Elizondo, Jr., Agency Accused
of Misusing Law, Austin Am.-Statesman, June 27, 1997.
 Letter from Joseph D. Rich, Chief,
Voting Section, Civ. Rts. Div., U.S. Dep't of Just., to Donald H.
Dwyer, Jr. (Aug. 24, 2004), available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/hava/MD_ltr2.htm.
In my discussions with election officials when I was at the Justice
Department, it seemed that they were very concerned about being
sued by the Department of Justice under the NVRA for not fully
complying with the driver's license voter registration provisions.
Most state officials found it easier and less risky to register all
driver's license applicants regardless of their citizenship
 Interview with Don Dwyer, Maryland
Delegate (June 23, 2008).
 Off. of the Legis. Auditor Gen., State
of Utah, ILR 2005-B, February 8, 2005; Deborah Bulkeley, State
Says 14 Illegals May Have Cast Ballots, Deseret Morning News,
Aug. 8, 2005. At least 20 of the registered voters were under
 Bill Would Change Voter Registration
Rolls, Associated Press, Feb. 7, 2006.
 42 U.S.C. § 15483(b)(4)(A)
 See Ohio Sec'y of State,
Directive No. 2004-31, Sept. 7, 2004; Letter from Chris Nelson,
South Dakota Sec'y of State, to County Auditors (Oct. 25, 2004);
Letter from Thomas J. Miller, Iowa Att'y Gen., to Chester J.
Culver, Iowa Sec'y of State (Oct. 20, 2004).
 42 U.S.C. § 15483(b) (2008).
 42 U.S.C. § 15483(a)(5)
 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg-6(g)