How Boston Moves to Clear Foreign Nationals From Voter Rolls

How Boston Moves to Clear Foreign Nationals From Voter Rolls

FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—A foreign national named Paul registered to vote at a local office of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles and records show that he voted, although he says his American wife voted after being accidentally checked in under his name. 

Another noncitizen, Najib, also was registered to vote at a motor vehicles office, and his name was discovered on the voter rolls after a year, but he hadn’t voted in that time. 

In these and other cases, the city of Boston flagged the noncitizens and removed them from voter registration lists. 

In fact, the largest city in New England—although commonly viewed as a liberal bastion—could serve as a national model on this aspect of election integrity, according to new findings by Public Interest Legal Foundation, a conservative watchdog group.

“In Boston, voter registration records disclosed to PILF demonstrate that Boston and other Massachusetts municipal systems—although not perfect—are a good example for how other states could tackle the noncitizen voting question,” says the report, first provided to The Daily Signal.

Public Interest Legal Foundation’s findings come as Congress considers requiring proof of citizenship for voting in federal elections and another bill to restore a citizenship question to the U.S. census form. 

“We are not looking at this through an ideological lens so much as a data lens,” J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, told The Daily Signal. “This illustrates how this population data can be used by states to help in election administration.”

Adams noted that Massachusetts is among a few states that conduct their own census, or population tally, outside the census conducted by the U.S. government every 10 years. 

The proof-of-citizenship legislation is not likely to pass the Democrat-led Senate, but at least in this narrow area, Massachusetts provides an example for other states on the issue of foreign citizens listed on U.S. voter registration rolls, Adams said. 

“Rather than reimagining the future, states should take this data tool that Massachusetts uses and apply it,” he said. 

Although every Democrat in the House recently voted against restoring a citizenship question to the census, Massachusetts law requires an annual census, or “annual resident listing,” that includes questions about citizenship status and voter registration and is used by local governments.

“Any registered voter who fails to complete the annual survey is warned that their voting status will be changed to INACTIVE until they comply,” says the report by Public Interest Legal Foundation, which is narrowly focused on tracking citizenship.

Overall, The Heritage Foundation’s Election Integrity Scorecard ranks Massachusetts as 45th out of 50 states. (The Heritage Foundation launched The Daily Signal in 2014.)

The study by Public Interest Legal Foundation concludes that Boston’s voter registration system manages to “catch and cancel foreign nationals listed throughout the roll on a roughly two-year churn.”

“Unfortunately, a significant percentage of these disclosed records show that votes are still cast and counted within those years before discovery,” the report says. 

The Boston city government this year provided information to Public Interest Legal Foundation that showed the city canceled voter registrations of 70 noncitizens. Most canceled registrations occurred in 2016 and 2017, with 13 in each year. 

On average, foreign citizens were registered to vote for two years before being discovered and dropped from the rolls. But the longest known period was 24 years, and the earliest known year it occurred was 1995. 

“Roughly 18% of Boston registrants were mailed confirmation notices prior to a reclassification to inactive status during the period,” the foundation’s report says. “Also, during this time, about 13% of Boston registrants were shed from the voter roll for reasons such as relocation, inactivity, and death.” 

The report also points to other specific examples, such as a noncitizen named Hai who was registered to vote for a year and a half before Boston removed him, and Fred, who was registered for two years before being removed. Neither voted and both were registered at a local motor vehicles office. 

A pattern of ineligible voters being registered at motor vehicle offices is a national problem that can be traced back to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, popularly known as the “motor voter law,” which allows someone to register to vote while getting a driver’s license.

“Foreign nationals are reflexively offered applications to vote and they unwittingly accept,” Public Interest Legal Foundation’s report says, adding: 

The 24 states plus D.C. that have automatic motor voter [registration], meaning they are not giving the immigrant a chance to decline registration, exacerbate the problem. States giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants increase traffic to DMVs. States with higher amounts of legal immigration mean even more driver’s licenses or state IDs are needed for daily life (and increases the risk of screening immigrants for voter registration). 

Original source

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.