Non-Citizen Voters Diluting the Rights and Privileges of Citizenship

Article subtitle: 
Recommendations to Ensure the Integrity of Elections Outlined
Article publisher: 
Center for Immigration Studies
Article date: 
18 September 2012
Article category: 
Election News. Don't select this category. Use Election tag instead.
Article Body: 

WASHINGTON, DC (September 18, 2012) – A new Center for Immigration Studies’ (CIS) Backgrounder examines efforts by state electoral officials to verify the accuracy of voter registration lists and the federal government to deny state access to information allowing ineligible non-citizen voters to be identified. The report emphasizes the need for federal-state cooperation in ensuring the integrity of voter enrollment. By not actively working with the states, the federal government blurs the distinction between citizens and aliens, thus diluting the value of citizenship as defined by the US Constitution.

The report is online at

The Backgrounder discusses evidence of voter lists containing the names of non-citizens, citing the Government Accountability Office’s discovery that 3 percent of the potential jurors on the voter list in one federal court district were non-citizens, and evidence from states like Colorado and Florida of non-citizens appearing on their voter lists. The document notes that states moved forward with their obligation to verify voter eligibility with the overwhelming consent of the public. A June Quinnipiac University poll found that three-fifths of Floridians approved of state officials' investigations.

The federal government attempted to deny states access to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) database for vetting voter lists in violation of federal law which unambiguously requires immigration authorities to respond to queries from state officials seeking information relating to an individual's citizenship or immigration status.

“How many fraudulent voters are too many? The integrity of our elections must be upheld, and the federal government must support the states in ensuring non-citizens are not registered or permitted to vote when they are not eligible,” commented Jessica Vaughan, the Center’s Director of Policy Studies. “Surely we do not want to allow non-citizens to become a factor in any election. In addition, state and federal officials must prevent the registration of ineligible voters and clean up the voting lists to prevent fraudulent voting, either by non-citizens or imposters.”

Voter registration efforts are essential, and the Backgrounder provides recommendations for ensuring the integrity of voter lists. The report urges systemic vetting efforts including front-end voter registration screening, use of technology like biometrics to complement the more error-prone biographic screening, reinstitution of the issuance of ID Cards to newly naturalized and derivative citizens to facilitate registering and voting, distribution of a pamphlet for registrars to aid in identifying various forms of citizenship and naturalization, and USCIS assistance for state and local elections’ officials in identifying an individual's status as an alien versus a derivative or naturalized citizen.



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Since its founding in 1985, the Center has pursued a single mission – providing immigration policymakers, the academic community, news media, and concerned citizens with reliable information about the social, economic, environmental, security, and fiscal consequences of legal and illegal immigration into the United States.