PILF to Congress: U.S. Lacks Safeguards from Noncitizen Voter Registration

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – May 1, 2019: Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) litigation counsel Kaylan L. Phillips testifies today before the U.S. House Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties regarding best practices in election administration.

In prepared remarks, Phillips notes that:

[T]he citizenship checks on the federal voter registration form are merely an honor system … In my experience, these “safeguards” are wholly inadequate.

Phillips argues that the vulnerability has proven to fail immigrants and citizens alike.

Noncitizens continue to be registered to vote, sometimes by their own error and sometimes by the errors of election officials. Our research has shown that individuals have been registered to vote even when they leave the citizenship checkbox blank or, worse, when they answer “no” to the question “Are you a citizen of the United States of America?”  

Phillips urges the Subcommittee to take substantive action.

If the Committee seeks to protect voters, it would be wise to focus on the failure of the citizenship checkbox. One solution is to equip states to verify citizenship before an individual is placed on the rolls.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation has issued reports since 2016 detailing how flaws within the existing Motor Voter programs in Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Georgia, New York, and Michigan are exposing ineligible noncitizens to the voter registration process—leading some to vote. These actions often surface when legal permanent residence seek a path to naturalization—only to risk rejection or deportation thereafter.

Read a copy of Phillips’ testimony, here.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation is the nation’s most active public interest law firm dedicated to enforcing the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and ensuring the integrity of American elections – bringing more than a dozen cases to enforce voter list maintenance obligations and inspection rights under federal law in federal courts across the nation in addition to serving as amicus in more than a dozen voting law cases. The Foundation also works with election officials and policymakers to improve the integrity of elections.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections.

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