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

  • 139 instances of noncitizen voter registration and eventual cancellation were disclosed by the County from 2006 to 2018.
  • 27 percent of noncitizens cast at least one ballot prior to removal.
  • Noncitizens remain registered for an average of six years before they are removed.
  • 71 percent of noncitizens self-reported their ineligible registrations at great legal risk.
  • 63 percent of noncitizens were registered in PennDOT transactions.
  • Allegheny County officials raised alarm about the system failures with the Commonwealth in 2008.

“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:

  • Verify claims of citizenship in registration applications against documentary evidence held in PennDOT and other government databases;
  • Collaborate with state and federal programs designed to confirm eligibility for various benefit programs; and
  • Improve public education efforts to warn legal permanent residents and others to refuse voter registration offers by any party or they risk deportation when naturalizing.

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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