The Justice Department announced charges Friday against 19 noncitizens who they say illegally voted in the 2016 election — putting a major spotlight on one of President Trump’s pet issues.
Among those accused of voting are illegal immigrants and legal residents alike — though none of them were citizens and therefore weren’t allowed to register to vote or cast ballots.
While far from the millions of votes Mr. Trump has said were illegally cast in 2016, the 19 indictments by a grand jury in North Carolina do highlight a problem that Democrats say doesn’t exist in any significant measure.
Those charged include four Mexicans, two from Haiti, two from the Dominican Republic and one each from Italy, Grenada, Korea, Guyana, Germany, Poland, Japan, El Salvador, Panama, Nigeria and the Philippines.
In the case of the Dominican man, he was ordered deported from the U.S. in the 1980s, but obtained a false identity and continued to live here, winning citizenship in the 1990s under his bogus persona, the government charged. He then registered to vote and cast ballots under the false ID.
One of the Mexicans, meanwhile, was in the U.S. legally, having been granted a green card in 2009. In 2012 she registered to vote, claiming she was actually a citizen, the indictment says. She later would apply for citizenship and lied on her forms, saying she had never claimed citizenship.
She voted in the 2016 election despite not having been granted citizenship, the government says.
Her naturalization application was denied in 2017.
The indictments were announced by U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon Jr. in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
His office said the cases stemmed from a new framework of the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and aided by ICE’s deportation office and the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.
The statement announcing the indictments said the investigation into voter fraud “is ongoing.”
Logan Churchwell, spokesman for the Public Interest Legal Foundation, which pushes localities to clean up voter rolls, called the indictments “a critical step in confronting real foreign influences in our elections.”
“Across the nation, noncitizens are gaining unlawful entry into our voting systems, often by bureaucratic invitation,” he said. “Our voter registration systems must confirm citizenship eligibility — otherwise more votes will be stolen by foreign nationals.”
His organization has done pioneering work on noncitizens registering and, in many cases, casting ballots in elections.
Thousands of cases have been identified in the PILF’s reviews of partial records in Virginia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, most of those involving people who voluntarily came forward to report they weren’t citizens and shouldn’t have been on the rolls in the first place.
Many of those registrations appear to have stemmed from the 1990 motor-voter law that required states to prod those coming into their motor vehicle bureaus to sign up. Since noncitizens are able to get driver’s licenses and other services at the bureaus, many of them also end up registering to vote.
In doing so, they attest that they are citizens.
There appears to be little follow-up from voting officials to verify whether that attestation is accurate, and some of those who registered to vote have later said they felt duped by the process.
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