Florida Recount Exposes the Danger of Non-Citizen Voting


November 16, 2018

By Brian Lonergan

You may have read the news that there is a heated election recount taking place in Florida—again.

Eighteen years after the nation held its breath while a presidential election result was delayed for over a month, accusations of vote-counting improprieties are being hurled over contested Sunshine State races for senator, governor and agriculture commissioner.

Unlike the recount of 2000, this standoff has cast a spotlight on a very dangerous and existential threat to our democracy: non-citizen voting.

Though their side later denied it, it has been documented that lawyers for Florida Democratic gubernatorial and Senate candidates objected to the rejection of a provisional ballot cast by a non-citizen. To those who might say “big deal,” it’s actually a very big deal.

For the record, it is illegal for non-citizens to vote in federal elections. Federal law clearly states it here, here and here. Aliens found to have voted in federal elections are subject to fines, imprisonment and deportation, and are deemed ineligible to receive visas or allowed entry into the United States.

Isn’t this really about cold-hearted, nativist Americans being mean to foreigners? Hardly.

The integrity of our elections is one of the fundamental principles of our nation. Allowing non-citizens to vote devalues U.S. citizenship. It cancels out the votes of American-born and naturalized citizens, and is an insult to those who lawfully participate in our elections.

Non-citizen voting also weakens American values. What exactly does our country gain by allowing foreign nationals to decide who will lead us? Do those foreign nationals have any understanding of the founding principles that made America exceptional? Do they revere our uniquely American heritage that holds sacred the concepts of liberty, individualism and free speech? Probably not.

More than likely, they come from places where corruption, rigged elections and repression of basic human rights are accepted as the norm.

Without assimilation and taking the proper steps toward citizenship, those people are also vulnerable to the charms of unscrupulous politicians who dangle easy access to government handouts in exchange for ever-expanding government and the loss of individual freedoms. That path leads to a very bad place for the country, its citizens and its immigrants.

Not surprisingly, non-citizen voting is all the rage among those in America’s anti-borders movement. While the practice is illegal at the federal level, there are no such restrictions for elections at the local and state levels.

Many of the same places that gave us sanctuary cities and states are now seeking non-citizen voting rights. San Francisco has started the process, allowing non-citizens to vote in school board elections.

Boston is seriously considering the idea of allowing non-citizen voting in municipal elections. Given California’s zeal for all things illegal immigration—sanctuary laws, tipping off aliens before ICE operations, et al—how long will it be until illegal aliens have full voting rights in the Golden State? The smart money is on “not long at all.”

Other communities have employed a more devious, back-door approach to non-citizen voting. Take Chicago, which this year approved a new identification card for illegal aliens in the city.

“Undocumented workers” need an ID card for basic needs in the city, its supporters would argue. Then comes the twist: the ID cards will be accepted as a valid form of identification to register to vote, available to all Chicago residents regardless of immigration status or criminal record. Citizens of the world, you too can now determine who runs Chicago.

These cases and many more show how advocacy for non-citizen voting creates an opportunity for large-scale voter fraud. That’s why the Immigration Reform Law Institute has been relentless in its efforts to ensure integrity in our voting procedures.

Last year, for example, we filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court in support of a lower court decision in Fitzpatrick v. Sessions. The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals had decided to expel from the United States a non-citizen who falsely stated that she was a U.S. citizen on a voter registration form and illegally voted in two elections.

If such flagrant violations of our election laws are not vigorously prosecuted, the damage to the integrity our republic will be incalculable.

What is currently taking place with the Florida recount is shameful. The presidential election recount in 2000 was decided by 537 votes. With each vote in states like Florida critical to the outcome, we can’t afford a single illegal vote.

Even in this increasingly polarized political climate, we should at least be able to expect our elections to be decided by U.S. citizens and no one else. Often people fail to act on an issue because they feel it does not directly affect them. This is not one of those issues.

Demand voting integrity or live with the destructive consequences.

Brian Lonergan is director of communications at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.

Also published at: Brian Lonergan, Florida Recount Exposes the Danger of Non-Citizen Voting, The Daily Caller, November 16, 2018.

Get Connected

Sign up for our email newsletter to stay up to date with immigration reform in the United States.

Attorneys United for a Secure America (AUSA) is a non-partisan affiliation of talented attorneys dedicated to pursuing cases that serve the national interest when it comes to immigration law.

If you are interested in joining the network, visit the AUSA website.