Public Interest Legal Backs Virginia Bill Checking Citizenship in Voter Registration

Published On: February 07th, 2017

(ALEXANDRIA, VA.) – February 7, 2017: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today released a letter of support for House Bill 1598 in the Virginia Legislature, requiring proof of citizenship during voter registration.

The letter of support was addressed to Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Winchester), chairwoman for the Committee on Privileges and Elections.

HB 1598 “requires persons applying to register to vote to provide proof of United States citizenship.” For those unable to comply, they will be registered to vote in federal elections only. The Public Interest Legal Foundation notes that this is a necessary measure to protect Virginia’s voter rolls from a documented trend of individuals casting ballots that are later removed from the rolls for reasons related to citizenship status.

“Virginia voters deserve better than an honor system that trusts first and only verifies after wrongdoing has apparently been committed – all while obscuring the public’s view into the process,” the letter notes.

The letter, submitted to the Committee on February 7, 2017, makes clear the when critics of the bill claim that noncitizen voting is a non-issue, they are not only wrong, but are abetted by jurisdictions that attempted to conceal contrary evidence from the public. In October 2017, the organization released a limited study of eight voting jurisdictions throughout the Old Dominion; finding more than 1,000 registered voters were removed for reasons related to citizenship status after the fact.

“In various cases, federal courts have ruled that states have the power to proactively prevent illegal behavior,” PILF Research Director Logan Churchwell said. “More than a thousand voter registrations and counting were quietly removed from the rolls. Virginia can do more to protect eligible voters’ ballots from being cancelled by illegal ones. HB 1598 helps in that regard.”

PILF announced on January 30 that it had successfully ended lawsuits in two other Virginia locales (Manassas and Chesterfield County) which provided the disclosure of additional voters that were removed for citizenship reasons.

The PILF letter makes note of Virginia’s recent, rocky history of securing elections from ineligible voters. Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill in August 2015 that would have required jury commissions to notify voter registrars when self-proclaimed noncitizens declined calls for duty. In 2016, the Commonwealth also considered making portions of the voter registration form, like the selection of citizenship status, optional.

A copy of the letter to the Virginia Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections 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.


2017.2.7 VA HB 1598 letter by Public Interest Legal Foundation on Scribd

Public Interest Legal Foundation