Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Election Officials Reject Report Of Illegal Immigrants Registering To Vote

The Dallas Morning News
By JOHN RILEY - Saturday, October 11, 2008

[Texas] County elections administrators reject the conclusions of a report alleging that up to 333,000 noncitizens may be registered to vote in Texas, saying there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the Lone Star State.

The report by David Simcox, the former head of a think tank that favors less immigration, said an estimated 1.8 million to 2.7 million noncitizen immigrants in the U.S. may be illegally registered to vote, thereby potentially influencing the outcome of the upcoming presidential and congressional elections.

Using population estimates from the Census Bureau and Texas county registration data, Mr. Simcox calculated that Dallas, Harris, Starr and Presidio counties, as well as others, had higher numbers of registered voters than those who are eligible, which may indicate noncitizens are registered to vote.

But elections administrators said this week that there's no proof that county officials are registering a significant number of noncitizens to vote.

"I don't think we are, and I have no evidence that we have people overregistered to vote," said Dallas County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet.

Steve Raborn, elections administrator for Tarrant County, said a two-year investigation by his office of questionable voter registrations in 2004 and 2005 found only three noncitizens on the county voter rolls, and they were later removed.

He said he couldn't completely discount Mr. Simcox's findings. "We probably have some noncitizens on the rolls, just like we probably have some dead people or some felons on the rolls, but it's not a big problem," Mr. Raborn said. "If they're illegal aliens, they're going to stay under the radar."

Mr. Simcox, former executive director of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, said voter registration has become an honor system that lacks tough enforcement and may be easily manipulated. He cited Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rick Noriega's campaign as a possible motivation for noncitizens to attempt to register to vote in hopes of influencing the election.

With a hotly contested presidential election, there has been a surge in voter registration this year, as well as concerns about fraud and voter disenfranchisement. This week, Nevada officials raided an ACORN office amid accusations that the group, which registers low-income people, had processed fraudulent voter registrations. And The New York Times reported that thousands of eligible voters have been removed from rolls or blocked from registering in at least six swing states in apparent violation of federal law.

Immigration advocates say Mr. Simcox is just trying to inflame people's hostilities toward immigrants and make it more difficult for legally eligible immigrant citizens to vote.

The report "proves the old adage that if you 'torture numbers long enough you can get them to say anything,' " said Angela Kelley, director of the Immigration Policy Center.

"Yes, we need to be vigilant to preserve the integrity of the voting system in America, but there is no evidence ... that finds voter fraud by noncitizens is a problem or legitimate worry, but rather, it's an urban myth."

The county officials said voter fraud was difficult to carry out in Texas because each applicant must submit a driver's license number or Social Security number, which is entered into a statewide electronic database and checked by the secretary of state's office. Applicants are sent a voting card and officially added to the rolls only if there are no discrepancies and the secretary of state's office approves the application.

If there is evidence of voter fraud, local officials are required to turn it over to the Texas attorney general for investigation.

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