Can All States Use Federal Immigration Database to Check Voters?
July 19, 2012, 11:42 PM
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On Tuesday, an article appeared that was something of a head-scratcher, which indicated that some states could use a federal immigration database to check their voter rolls to delete illegal aliens. Underline “some” because that was the headline:

Some states can check voters against immigration database, Associated Press, July 16, 2012

WASHINGTON — The federal government is expanding access to an immigration database so that several states can use it to purge ineligible voters, officials said Monday.

Homeland Security Department representatives notified Florida officials last week that they could check to see whether registered voters were actually noncitizens who should not be eligible to cast a ballot. State officials said Monday that the department was offering similar access to other states who had requested the information.

“I’m pleased that DHS has agreed to work with states to verify the citizenship of people on the voter rolls and help reduce our vulnerability,” said Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who had renewed his request for the data last week, writing a letter with the support of several other states.

Elections leaders in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio and Utah had signed onto Gessler’s request. Five of the states — Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico and Ohio — are expected to be competitive in the 2012 presidential race. Each of the election chiefs in those states are Republican. [. . .]

So what’s the deal? Why aren’t ALL states allowed to use the federal database to
purge voter rolls of non-citizen voters?

The Obama regime has given indications that it would welcome illegal alien voters to show their gratitude for the President’s generosity toward them. The Attorney General has echoed the liberal talking point that voter fraud is practically non-existent and recently compared voter ID to the poll tax.

So the friends of electoral integrity have good reason to fear widespread voter fraud. The ability of states to purge illegal alien voters would be a step in the right direction.

Wednesday’s news has a partial answer, with the hint that states may officially request permission to use the Washington database. If so, then citizens of responsible states could lobby their governments to take that step to help assure an honest election in November — although there are signs of considerable pushback:

Texas wants access to immigration database to check voter rolls for noncitizens, Houston Chronicle, July 18, 2012

Texas elections officials on Wednesday joined a growing number of states across the country seeking access to a massive immigration database to check voter rolls for possible noncitizens.

Texas Secretary of State Esperanza “Hope” Andrade sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano requesting access to a federal database that contains more than 100 million immigration records.

Andrade, appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, is the latest of roughly a dozen Republican election leaders from across the United States to seek the information since Homeland Security granted Florida officials permission last week after a protracted fight.

Andrade’s plans to check voter rolls against the DHS data­base mark the latest chapter in an ongoing controversy over the state’s efforts to combat voter fraud. Texas officials and the Department of Justice already are embroiled in a court battle over a Texas law passed last year that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls.

Some Texas voter advocates worried that Andrade’s plans to run checks through the immigration database – coupled with the state’s controversial voter ID law – would fuel confusion and discourage minority voters from going to the polls in November.

“We think this will address a problem that doesn’t really exist and will create confusion about a supposed or alleged fraud that – if it happens at all – is so miniscule that it has no impact,” insisted Carlos Duarte, the Texas Director of Mi Familia Vota, an advocacy organization. “This is happening so close to the election that the actual effect is going to be disenfranchising people who otherwise should be eligible to vote.”

First request in 2007
Spokesman Rich Parsons at the secretary of state’s office said Texas plans to start using the DHS database “as quickly as possible,” but did not have a timeline and could not say if it will begin the checks before the November election.

For months, the Obama administration resisted granting Florida access to the DHS database, but relented after a judge ruled in the state’s favor on a separate issue related to its efforts to purge noncitizens from its voting rolls.

Since then, election leaders in nearly a dozen states have expressed interest in gaining access to the DHS database. But opponents of the move argue that the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program, also known as “SAVE,” was intended for use by government agencies verifying the immigration status of applicants for benefits and licenses – not to purge voter rolls.

Andrade wrote in the letter to DHS that Texas officials had previously inquired about the SAVE program in 2007, but were told it was “not optimized or designed for voter verification.” She wrote that she understood that the information in the database should not be used as sole confirmation of a person’s citizenship status for voting purposes, but said it will be “one of many important resources for confirming voter eligibility.”

Disagree on problem
The scope of voter fraud – nationally and in Texas – is a key point of contention over states’ efforts to cleanse voter rolls.

Parsons said the secretary of state had no estimate of the number of potential noncitizens on the state’s voting rolls.

Advocates and some academics argue that the problem is virtually nonexistent, while state officials cite federal and state cases as evidence of a potential problem.

The federal government has prosecuted more than 100 defendants for election fraud since 2002, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said while defending the state’s ID law.

He said his office had 50 voter fraud convictions during that time, including a city council member who registered ineligible foreign nationals to vote in an election that was decided by 19 ballots.