This article comes in the context of Donald Trump’s claims that 3-5 million illegal aliens voted in the 2016 general election and that is why he didn’t win the popular vote. Trump offered no evidence that these voters exist outside his imagination, but there is no shortage of websites making similar claims. One such web article is “Illegal Aliens Really Do Vote – a Lot” by William Campenni at a website called American Thinker.
I have found American Thinker to be an essentially dishonest enterprise, and that’s the case with the article above. So let me start off pointing out the attempt to trick the reader, its title: “Illegal Aliens Really Do Vote – a Lot.” In the article, there is not a single instance of a vote cast by an illegal alien cited, not one. The article says “a lot” and Trump says “3-5 million” yet neither can produce a single one.
Headlines such as the one at American Thinker, and even some on more respected news sites, may be all a reader actually sees, and the careless reader might conclude that if the headline says it, then the body of the article supports it. That’s a mistake in the age of manipulation and fake news.
What one finds underneath these illegal voter headlines are actually claims that aliens are registered to vote, not necessarily undocumented ones, and not undocumented ones who vote. Neither Mr. Campenni’s article at American Thinker article nor any other I have seen give any examples of undocumented aliens who voted; however, they at least make an argument that they exist and that’s what we’ll look at next.
First let’s look at a related claim close to home to explore how these things work. Here in South Carolina there were some articles a few years ago that said hundreds of dead people had voted. The State Department of Motor Vehicles ran the voter list against their records and came up with at least 900 who they claimed were dead, and the claim was publicized by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, a Republican, who said:
We know for a fact that there are deceased people whose identities are being used in elections in South Carolina.
This all came out as South Carolina was debating a new Photo ID law. One immediately suspected something was amiss when the DMV initially refused to release the names of these “dead voters” to the Department of Voter Registration.
What DMV did was to use the social-security number on the voter registration files to match DMV records. That’s a good starting strategy, but it’s only a start. Such results have to be validated, and Wilson’s claim was irresponsible before validation. Just this week, I had a problem with my doctor’s medical record system because they had switched two digits on my social-security number. If it had been my voter registration record, I might have shown up as a dead voter. The State Law Enforcement Division was called in to investigate, and they published their report that found clerical errors and poor record record matching, but no dead voters. We are fortunate to have a detailed 476-page report showing the voter fraud claims were bogus.
The preceding story is like illegal voter registration stories. Claims of undocumented voters are made based on some kind of record matching, which we see is guaranteed to have errors, but not actual cases.
Some reports say that aliens are registered to vote and then make the statement: “and we don’t know how many of them are illegals.” Well, if you don’t know anything, why say anything? Get the proof before you start slinging accusations.
Mr. Campenni’s article, after wasting the reader’s time with vague anecdotes and unsupported statements, finally gets to some citations. It uses the words: “In fact numerous studies document the fraud….” What immediately follows is described as “A well researched report on illegal alien voting in my home state of Virginia” which “revealed more than a thousand illegal alien registrants in just eight counties.” Campenni misrepresents his source by using the word “illegal” when the study doesn’t say that at all. It says only that they were aliens. Was the study done by the University of Virginia? The State Voter Registration Department? No, it was done by an interest group called the “Virginia Voters Alliance” and “The Public Interest Legal Foundation.” Their report at least has claims that some number of persons who were not citizens had been removed from the voter rolls by the state, but not that they were undocumented aliens. The problem with such a claim is that states are notorious for removing people from voter rolls IN ERROR through all sorts of record matching schemes. It could be that the people removed in Virginia are no more aliens than the dead voters in South Carolina were dead!
Mr. Campenni next cites “a new study confirms similar voting fraud in Philadelphia.” Another independent report? No. It comes from the same Public Interest Legal Foundation that issued the Virginia report. That report also claims that aliens are registered to vote, not that any of them are here illegally. The data is wholly based on aliens identified by the State and removed from the rolls, and we don’t know if those persons were aliens, or removed in error.
But why are these non-citizens registered to vote in Pennsylvania if they didn’t intend to vote. It turns out to be a system error. US News reports:
State officials have acknowledged that a longstanding glitch in the design of Pennsylvania’s electronic driver’s licensing system — going back to its start in the mid-1990s — had allowed noncitizen immigrants to inadvertently register to vote. The Department of Transportation said it had fixed the glitch as of late last year.
Next Mr. Campenni cites “a CBS 4/Miami Herald study” saying “as many as 180,000 non-citizen legal resident voters.” The 2012 article itself does not use the 180,000 number at all, but only says 2,000 in Miami-Date County (among 1.2 million registered voters in the county). And it does not say that these 2,000 were non-citizens, but only that they were being investigated. Interestingly, the study found that of the challenged voters, their party affiliation was evenly split between Republican and Democratic. I should remind readers that Florida has a reputation for removing eligible voters from its rolls through faulty record matching.
So Mr. Campenni provides citations that a few non-citizens were registered to vote, and some of them apparently voted. It would amaze me that among the millions of undocumented aliens in the country, at least a few hadn’t registered to vote fraudulently and had actually voted. But why can’t people who claim that there are “a lot” or “3-5 million” actually come up with some?