Report: How Noncitizens Vote in Allegheny County, PA

Pennsylvania Continues to Hide Full Scale of Alien Voting

(PITTSBURGH, PA.) – July 12, 2018: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today released Steeling the Vote, a special report detailing how noncitizens were invited and given access to ballots in Allegheny County over the past 12 years. The ineligible registrations were discovered only after immigrants self-reported their statuses to the County.

Amid federal litigation with the Pennsylvania Department of State for complete access to noncitizen voter registration records, Allegheny County election officials disclosed hundreds of pages detailing how noncitizens were regularly offered voter registration by government employees and third-party drives, despite language barriers and clear understandings as to what they were signing. With no comprehensive system for detecting and removing ineligible voters from the rolls, the majority of cancellations derive from noncitizens self-reporting their own deportable offenses.

Key Findings

“Noncitizens have voted in Pennsylvania because Motor Voter registration is broken,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “This report proves how Pennsylvania failed citizens and immigrants alike. For decades, unassuming immigrants were invited to break the law in a systematic fashion while citizens suffered the consequences of vote dilution. Pennsylvania needs a comprehensive election integrity solution and Allegheny County clearly demonstrates what is at stake if the problem isn’t fixed. Congress must update and fix the flaws in the current Motor Voter system.” 

The Allegheny County disclosures follow shocking admissions and analyses from Commonwealth and local officials regarding the decades-long practice of offering voter registration applications to all PennDOT driver’s license customers regardless of citizenship status. The report adds that one Philadelphia city commissioner publicly testified “the number of noncitizens who entered the voter registration system during the last two decades exceeded 100,000.”

The Foundation advances solutions necessary to close off the voter registration system from ineligible noncitizens in the latest report:

The PILF is currently engaged in federal litigation to seek the release of similar documents representative of the entire Commonwealth still being held by the Department of State. A lawsuit filed under the National Voter Registration Act was filed in February 2018.

Steeling the Vote follows the Foundation’s previous reports studying New Jersey and Virginia in 2017.

Access to Steeling the Vote: Allegheny County Reveals How Citizenship Verification Protects Citizens and Immigrants Alike is available, here.

Access to exhibits referenced throughout can be found, here.

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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Steeling the Vote: Allegheny County Reveals How Citizenship Verification Protects Citizens and Immigrants Alike

Amid federal litigation with the Pennsylvania Department of State for complete access to noncitizen voter registration records, Allegheny County election officials disclosed hundreds of pages detailing how noncitizens were regularly offered voter registration by government employees and third-party drives, despite language barriers and clear understandings as to what they were signing. With no comprehensive system for detecting and removing ineligible voters from the rolls, the majority of cancellations derive from noncitizens self-reporting their own deportable offenses.

Read Steeling the Vote here.

Key Findings

“Noncitizens have voted in Pennsylvania because Motor Voter registration is broken,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “This report proves how Pennsylvania failed citizens and immigrants alike. For decades, unassuming immigrants were invited to break the law in a systematic fashion while citizens suffered the consequences of vote dilution. Pennsylvania needs a comprehensive election integrity solution and Allegheny County clearly demonstrates what is at stake if the problem isn’t fixed. Congress must update and fix the flaws in the current Motor Voter system.”

Our press release on the report is available here.

Access to exhibits referenced throughout can be found, here.

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J. Christian Adams Commends Kavanaugh Nomination

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – July 9, 2018: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today released a statement in support of President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“President Trump has again delivered on his promise to appoint judges who revere the Constitution,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “Judge Kavanaugh has an originalist’s record of respecting the Constitution’s purpose of limiting the power of the federal government and securing individual liberty. Americans should be thrilled that shortly, Justice Kavanaugh will be on the Supreme Court and upholding the federalist balance of power as originally intended.”

 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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PILF Praises SCOTUS on Texas Redistricting Maps

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – June 25, 2018: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today released a statement praising the Supreme Court’s decision to largely uphold Texas’ redistricting maps.

“Today’s decision again demonstrates how the Obama DOJ was wrong to target Texas for its voting laws and redistricting maps,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “Just like it had done in the Texas voter ID case and even the Ohio list maintenance matter, the Sessions DOJ’s course corrections were necessary and justified. The Obama DOJ seemed to find racial discrimination everywhere and spent millions of tax dollars chasing it. The Supreme Court is wise to help close this chapter.”

Adams previously co-signed a letter in 2017 calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to select effective Civil Rights Division leadership that would end the “ideological rot” tainting law enforcement decisions there.

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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PILF Praises SCOTUS Decision on ‘Partisan Gerrymandering’

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – June 18, 2018: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today released a statement praising the Supreme Court’s finding that plaintiffs lacked standing to bring claims against Wisconsin’s 2011 redistricting map (Gill v. Whitford 16-1161).

“Partisan interests want courts to draw legislative districts. The Supreme Court just made that harder,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “The job of the Judiciary isn’t to decide political disputes that are best resolved in state legislatures. The Court was wise to not break with this tradition today.”

The opinion today noted in part:

That shortcoming confirms the fundamental problem with the plaintiffs’ case as presented on this record. It is a case about group political interests, not individual legal rights. But this Court is not responsible for vindicating generalized partisan preferences. The Court’s constitutionally prescribed role is to vindicate the individual rights of the people appearing before it.

The Foundation, on behalf of the American Civil Rights Union, submitted an amicus brief detailing constitutional concerns in 2017. A summary of arguments are provided below.

Court precedents on the responsibilities of redistricting are clear. Except in cases where a redistricting plan targets a “racial minority for special discriminatory treatment”, states are constitutionally charged designing political jurisdiction. The brief echoes Chapman v. Meier: “We say once again that has been said on many occasions: reapportionment is primarily the duty and responsibility of the State through its legislature or other body, rather than of a federal court.”

Partisan gerrymandering claims upset the federalist balance of power. “The [lower court] based its admittedly novel conclusion not on a finding of discrimination abhorrent to deeply rooted constitutional principles but on the finding that the drafters of the plan intended ‘to entrench the Republican Party in power.’ Such a finding, built on a shaky foundation, at best, upsets the delicate balance of power,” the brief notes.

A copy of the brief, submitted on August 4, 2017 has been made available, here.

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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J. Christian Adams Discusses Husted Decision on WMAL

PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams joined Larry O’Connor on WMAL-DC to discuss the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Ohio voter list maintenance procedures. To learn more about the decision and case, click here. Skip to 1:36:18 to hear Adams’ segment.

J. Christian Adams Praises SCOTUS Decision on Ohio Voter List Maintenance Procedures

Justice Thomas Adopts Constitutional Reasoning in PILF Brief

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – June 11, 2018: Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) President J. Christian Adams praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today regarding Ohio’s voter list maintenance policies under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) (Husted v. A. Phillip Randolph Institute 16-980).

“Today’s ruling empowers local officials and concerned parties to utilize the NVRA to ensure the most accurate and reliable voter rolls possible. The days of trying to hamstring maintenance responsibilities in the absence of federal guidance are over.

“This ruling underscores Congress’ intent to hold voter list maintenance mandates and registration opportunities with equal importance. Further, the Court rightfully challenged notions that officials were handcuffed to only taking maintenance action in the event of voter death or relocation. States and locales are charged today to take action utilizing modern tools and best practices to best serve resident citizens.”

In Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion, the constitutional arguments argued on behalf of ACRU are adopted:

Respondents’ reading of the NVRA would seriously interfere with the State’s constitutional authority to set and enforce voter qualifications.

The opinion also provides support for other tools being used to clean voter rolls (“So long as the trigger for sending notices is ‘uniform, nondiscriminatory, and in compliance with the Voting Rights Act’.”).

The Court was clearly unconvinced by arguments submitted from former Justice Department luminaries such as former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, AAG Thomas E. Perez, AAG Deval Patrick, DAAG-CR Loretta King, DAAG-CR Pamela S. Karlan, DAAG-CR Julie A. Fernandes, DAAG-CR Samuel R. Bagenstos, and others. The collective’s claims that the NVRA prohibited Ohio’s procedure (especially on the “trigger” mechanism of non-voting) and arguments regarding constitutional avoidance were squarely confronted by today’s ruling. The Court concluded that Ohio’s list maintenance program follows federal law “to the letter.” As Justice Thomas explained in concurrence, the ruling was necessary to honor the States’ constitutional authority to determine who is qualified to vote in Ohio’s elections.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation previously filed an amicus brief on behalf of the American Civil Rights Union in support of Ohio’s policy for removing ineligible and outdated voters. Below is a summary of observations made in support of Ohio’s voter list maintenance policies.

The U.S. Constitution grants Ohio the power to determine which ineligible voters are subject to cancellation. Limited Congressional actions and court precedent find that regulatory authority over federal elections remains exclusively with the states.

Ohio’s ‘supplemental’ voter list maintenance process is in keeping with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002—finding otherwise violates basic principles of Federalism. Regardless of the standard used to rule, the appellate court is currently throttling Ohio’s maintenance procedures based on restrictions not found in the law. A state’s duty to set qualifications for voting is matched with the expectation that they are enforced. Further, Congress has strictly barred states from only using inactivity as a justification for voter removal. The Sixth Circuit incorrectly carries that further, blocking Ohio from its combined approach of considering inactivity and responsiveness to official inquiry.

Ohio does not remove voters simply for failure to vote—which otherwise would be violation of the NVRA and HAVA. The supplemental procedure requires that a voter failing to cast ballots for two consecutive years, does not respond to a confirmation notice within the allotted time, and continues to not vote for an additional four consecutive years be removed. Inactivity alone does not trigger an automatic cancellation.

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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J. Christian Adams Before Congress: Return Citizenship Question to Census

Reform Could Aid African-American Communities

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – June 8, 2018: Leadership for the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) participated in a hearing convened today by the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice regarding the inclusion of a citizenship status question in the 2020 Census.

PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams spoke in favor of the planned return of the question to its former rate of circulation on Friday, citing improved enforcement of the Voting Rights Act and curbing the “foreign influences” in the American political system.

Excerpts from Adams’ prepared remarks:

The Trump Administration’s decision to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census is the right decision. Justice Department officials charged with enforcing the Voting Rights Act will enjoy more precise citizen population data and thus enhance enforcement of civil rights laws. A census that collects robust citizenship data also will give policy makers the tools to curb the real, everyday foreign influences in our political system – namely ending political subsidies in legislative bodies for areas with large alien populations.

Returning the citizenship question to the Census also will potentially aid African-American communities who have suffered and lost political representation when legislative line drawers do not have precise and robust citizenship data.

Adams explains in detail his own experiences as a former Justice Department attorney when limited citizenship datasets for smaller jurisdictions impacted the ability to clearly determine if minority vote dilution was occurring. He commends Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore for taking charge on the critical reform:

Some have attacked President Trump’s decision to collect robust citizenship data in the 2020 Census and questioned the justifications for that improvement made by Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore, namely that it would help enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. As I have shown in the Lake Park case, those critics are flat wrong. Mr. Gore is squarely correct. Collecting robust citizenship data in the 2020 Census aids enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

Adams originally praised the March 2018 announcement regarding the inclusion of the citizenship question, noting at the time: “Only citizens should be given political power. Our current system leads to noncitizens being allocated political power in legislatures at the expense of citizens … This carries the nation one step closer to preventing against actual foreign influences in our elections.”

A copy of Adams’ prepared remarks can be found, here.

Archived video footage of the hearing has been made available here, courtesy of the House Judiciary Committee.

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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Harris County: Revealing Noncitizen Voter Records Harms ‘Public Interest’

(HOUSTON, TX.) – June 5, 2018: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) reacted to Harris County, Texas’ latest court filing arguing that noncitizen voter records should not be disclosed to the public.

“Harris County is fully committed to concealing the extent of noncitizen registration and voting,” PILF Communications Director Logan Churchwell said. “Never before has this Foundation seen a greater commitment to hiding public records readily available in other counties. The data in question could help identify procedural failures that place immigrants at risk of premature access to voting and convert their naturalization paths to deportation orders. Harris County’s behavior is not only unlawful, it’s callous.”

In a brief filed on June 1, the Harris County Voter Registrar offered the following unprecedented arguments in defense of its position to hide voter records:

The PILF is currently engaged in federal and state lawsuits to seek the release of records belonging to former registrants who were officially discovered or self-reported their ineligible noncitizen statuses to the Harris County Voter Registrar. The PILF previously responded to claims suggesting that it had no right to data related to noncitizen voter registrants and that the federal case should be stayed pending a state court judgment in Austin, among other matters. The Foundation also further briefed the Court in support of its motion for preliminary injunction to gain access to records before the 2018 Midterm Elections.

The federal case is now fully briefed and awaits a decision from the Court.

Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 allows individuals to request inspection or seek copies of “records concerning the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters,” the PILF noted in its original complaint.

A copy of the case fact sheet can be found, here.

The case is in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. The case number is 4:18-cv-00981.

Attorneys for the Public Interest Legal Foundation are J. Christian Adams, Noel H. Johnson, and Joseph Vanderhulst. Brenham-based Andy Taylor of Andy Taylor & Associates, P.C. serves as local counsel.

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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26 Iowa Counties Face Lawsuits for Concealing Voter Data

(INDIANAPOLIS, IN.) – June 5, 2018: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today announced that it placed 26 Iowa counties on notice for concealing voter registration and list maintenance data from public inspections guaranteed under federal law.

“Showing more registered voters than adult residents is alarming—but refusing to answer questions about it is much worse,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “For months, the State of Iowa responded to questions about historically bloated voter rolls by engaging in magical thinking: it pretends that substantial portions of registrants do not exist. Statistical games aside, a startling number of counties face federal litigation if public inspection rights of voter registration records continue to be ignored.

In September 2017, 31 Iowa counties were contacted by the Foundation after reviews of 2016 Election voter registration totals found those jurisdictions held more than 100 percent registration. Letters mailed to the counties in question note that it appears they are violating the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) because they are not properly maintaining the voter rolls. The NVRA (also known as Motor Voter) requires state and local election officials to properly maintain voter rolls and ensure that only eligible voters are registered.

The notices sought a variety of documents to clearly discern which jurisdictions are failing to perform basic voter list maintenance duties. Some records originally requested concern: noncitizen voters; numbers of dead, duplicate, relocated, and felon removals; evidence of use for databases which better identify relocated or alien registrants; and third-party communications about voter rolls, among others.

Shortly after the letters were sent, the Secretary of State began disputing the Foundation’s findings with its own comparison that did not include all registered voters—namely “inactive” ones, and circulated a letter among the counties noting its disagreement with the Foundation’s methodology.

Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 allows individuals to request inspection or seek copies of records concerning the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters. If a jurisdiction denies those rights, a 20-day notice period must follow before federal litigation can commence.

The following counties were given notice: Adams, Allamakee, Audubon, Carroll, Chickasaw, Clay, Dallas, Dickinson, Emmet, Fremont, Guthrie, Iowa, Jackson, Johnson, Lyon, Madison, Mahaska, Marion, O’Brien, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Poweshiek, Warren, Webster, Winnebago, and Worth.

A copy of the notice letters dated June 1, 2018 may be accessed, here.

A copy of the 2017 letter sent may be reviewed, here.

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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