Hundreds of Virginia Voters Were Registered Illegally, Public Interest Group Charges

registration_formby James A. Bacon

The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) claims to have documented 1,046 non-citizens who were illegally registered to vote in eight Virginia jurisdictions. Nearly 200 ballots were cast before they could be removed from the rolls, declares the Foundation in a new study, “Alien Invasion in Virginia: The Discovery and Coverup of Noncitizen Registration and Voting.

“The problem is most certainly exponentially worse because we have no data regarding aliens on the registration rolls for the other 125 Virginia localities,” states the executive summary. “Because no formal programs exist in Virginia to identify noncitizen registrants, the discovery and removal of these non-citizens is either by accident or because the registrant later indicated to election officials that he or she was not a citizen.”

The findings were based upon data culled from the following jurisdictions: Prince William County, Loudoun, Stafford, Bedford, Hanover and Roanoke counties, and the cities of Alexandria and Fairfax.

Almost as disturbing as the raw numbers is the lack of cooperation extended to PILF and the Virginia Voters Alliance by local registrars and the state board of elections. States the report:

Virginia state election officials are obstructing access to public records that reveal the extent to which non-citizens are participating in our elections. These obstructionist tactics have led to PILF and VVA obtaining data from only a handful of Virginia counties so far. But the information from a few counties demonstrates a massive problem.

PILF describes itself as a “public interest law firm dedicated entirely to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, the Foundation seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections.”

The so-called “Motor Voter” law enacted in 1993 requires each state to offer voter registration to anyone who applies for a driver’s license. Attempts by states to require registrants to provide documentary proof of citizenship have been thwarted by left-leaning voter groups and the Department of Justice. Virginia requires applicants to do no more than check a box, under penalty of perjury, affirming that they are citizens.

PILF contends that local registrars failed to provide the organization with documents and records required under the 1993 federal law to be made available to the public. Ultimately, that lack of cooperation was traced to the Virginia Department of Elections and its commissioner Edgardo Cortes, according to the report. “Over the course of August and September 2016, responses from election officials rolled in, each one explaining that state election officials had instructed them not to provide lists of non-citizens who had been removed from Virginia’s voter rolls.”

PILF could find no record that anyone who had registered and voted illegally had been prosecuted for fraud.

Bacon’s bottom line: The implications of this report are so earth-shaking — remember that Attorney General Mark Herring defeated Mark Obenshain by only 165 votes out of 2.2 million cast — that even a somnambulant mainstream media cannot ignore it.

Before getting all agitated, though, I would like to see the findings confirmed by credible third parties. I know nothing about PILF and its reputation for fairly presenting the facts. But the allegations cannot be dismissed lightly. The report reproduces 84 exhibits of registration forms that were canceled on the grounds that the individual was a non-citizen. And the findings follow on the heels of allegations that a James Madison University student submitted 20 voter applications under the names of deceased individuals.

If the charges are proven to be true, this is a scandal of massive proportions and heads should roll.

(Editor’s note: My apologies if I’m the last person in Virginia to blog about this story. I’ve been really distracted the past few days, this report just came to my attention, and I hadn’t seen it touted in any local blog or news source yet.)

Update: Former Bacon’s Rebellion contributor Peter Galuszka addresses the issue in the Washington PostAll Opinions Are Local” blog. His bottom line: “Even if all 1,046 cases the groups claim are valid, they do not make their point, given that more than 2 million Virginians tend to vote in elections. That’s hardly massive voting fraud.”

Update to the Update: PILF’s Christian Adams responds in PJMedia to Peter’s piece, charging that it is full of errors. He concludes, “The Virginia legislature is convening a hearing next week about recent reports of failures by state officials to take the threat seriously. And meanwhile the instruments of the old media line up to give cover to criminality in our elections.”


  1. acbar8

    [A note to other readers: I wasn’t able to log in to BR using my usual name and password, presumably due to BR’s current website problem, but registering/logging in to WordPress first, then “linking” the WordPress and BR accounts (as suggested to make login faster) bypassed whatever glitch was locking me out.]

    Dear Baconius, I am leery of this organization, the “Public Interest Legal Foundation,” and what they are up to, here. It seems odd and distasteful for any charity to make as its guiding principle, its reason-for-being, the strict limitation of the right to vote. In general, we did away with the limited franchise in the 19th and early 20th centuries in this country; the residual limitations such as the Poll Tax were part of “Jim Crow” and not something we should be proud of. Yet here we are in so many “Red” States crowing about voter fraud and the need to require IDs and restrict early voting, etc., knowing perfectly well that the real “game” here is to suppress minority turnout. North Carolina is a bad example for us here in Virginia to emulate.

    The fundamental problem with any democracy is participation: specifically, getting a representative portion of the electorate to come to the polls and vote. That problem is enormous, and affects the political (if not legal) legitimacy of the results. When a slice of the eligible population doesn’t vote, even from indifference, it’s easy to say “that was their stupid choice” — but later, when policies are adopted by those elected by those who did vote, we have the potential for disconnects and intense policy polarizations of the sort that have plagued us lately. People who do not feel they have any role in “the system” are far more likely not to support it when the chips are down. We are going to have a nasty spate of this if Mr. Trump goes down in flames, as now seems most likely, from his supporters claiming “The election was rigged and we was robbed!”

    But of course, your post is about those who are patently not eligible to vote because they are not citizens, and this is a problem which is so “earthshaking . . . that even a somnambulant mainstream media cannot ignore it.” Really? Hyperbole aside, there are darned good policy reasons to choose to allocate bureaucratic resources toward getting out the vote and not towards suppressing it. If implementing the “motor voter law” increases the risk of voter fraud, so be it; the statistics showing up in these voter registration cases don’t seem to indicate it’s much of a problem. Rather, the problem is the blatant discriminatory intent among those pushing for new and unnecessary restrictions.

    Why of course, we can always find an instance where just a few less votes actually cast for the winner would have swung an election result. That’s what recounts and contests over individual ballots are for. Why of course, we should have fair and non-partizan administration of the election machinery, and there may have been some sloppy or even biased admin here; but what actually happened here? At what cost in potential fraud, versus what gain in potential participation?

    I read part of the report of the “Public Interest Legal Foundation” and glanced at its website. The latter proclaims, “The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections.” It has a six-member Board of Directors: One of these has written a book titled: “Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department” and touts appearances on Fox and Breitbart. One represents the NRA and authored a WSJ article “How to Investigate the IRS.” One is co-founder and president of the National Organization for Marriage, “the nation’s largest organization dedicated solely to the protection of marriage and the faith communities that sustain it.” One is “manager” of the Heritage Foundation’s Election Law Reform Initiative. You get the picture. Now we surely should not decry people with such views speaking out about election priorities, but let’s keep this in perspective, with biases identified!

    1. baconius

      Acbar, please note that I made a point of saying, “Before getting all agitated, though, I would like to see the findings confirmed by credible third parties.” I don’t want to jump to conclusions. Undoubtedly, there is another side to this story, which may or may not be valid. Also, it’s entirely possible (as you point out) that this group has a partisan agenda. But having a partisan agenda doesn’t make someone wrong. It just means the rest of us have to examine the claims with closer scrutiny.

      I am disappointed that you slough off the idea of hundreds of non-citizens voting illegally on the grounds, as I interpret you, that some people are trying to deprive others of their voting rights. As the old saying goes, one wrong does not make a right.

      Here’s why this story deserves to taken seriously (assuming it pans out as fair and accurate): No one is writing about this issue. By contrast, there’s no missing the opposition to Voter ID laws. Everybody is familiar with the charges that such laws are designed to suppress certain voters. But virtually no one is aware that hundreds of non-citizens could be voting illegally.

  2. Acbar

    Sure, this hasn’t attracted attention before, that’s a fair observation — and the numbers alleged are startlingly large. But how many voters are there in Virginia? I still think the greater evil in the long run is the disconnect between those who vote and the population at large. Let’s not fix a minor problem by applying remedies that make that major problem worse. That’s exactly what NC did, under circumstances that betrayed their ulterior intent, and Virginia has every reason to go out of its way to avoid THAT kind of reputation.

  3. Mom

    Interesting, one of the names on the list for Prince William County shows that the individual had his voter registration cancelled in 2011 as he was declared a non-citizen, yet he currently sits on the Town Council, odd.

  4. Rowinguy1

    What the linked article seems most to show to me is that a lot of folks simply checked the wrong box on the form. Or else, there are a whole lot of Anglo-Saxon Canadian emigres plotting to take over Prince William Co.

    Seriously, Jim, did you look at the PW Co “evidence” attached to this “report?” Doesn’t it look like about once a month someone at the election board got out the cards and just pitched out those (“Declared non-citizen”) that checked the wrong box on the form? What a lot of hooey!

  5. Rowinguy1

    I mean, look at the “declarations” on October 11, 2011. The “declared non-citizens” include Mr. Hanson, Ms. Hoosier, Mr. Klotz, Ms. Kamara, Mr. Frankenberry, Ms. Walls, Mr. Brown, Ms. Arizaga, Ms. Graves, Mr. Jensen, Mr. Raglan, Ms. Valverde, Ms. or Mr. Hadjini, Ms. Haynes, Mr. Mendoza, Ms. Manzano, Mr. Turberville and Ms. Gomez.

    I cry BS on the “study.”

  6. Larrytheg

    Do a search on the guy running this outfit …. to see his other activities…

    what I mostly got out of his “report” is more conspiracy theory fueled by the idea that there exists a process by which the Voter registration people do validate the legitimacy of voters.

    what this guy complains about is that he demands to know what processes they are using and how many they have disqualified… and then he seems to want to claim that this “proves” there is voter fraud going on …

    and of course the right wing echo chamber is picking it up and bleating about it..

    but go do the search and check out this guy’s “credentials” and what he has been up to for the years prior….

    here’s the problem. Baconius apparently reads stuff like this AND deems it worthy and credible enough of publishing in his blog…..but then adds some “qualifying” words…. like saying he wants 3rd party concurrence.

    my question is why publish this stuff BEFORE other credible evidence has been provided to ensure that this stuff is just not partisan conspiracy crapola… once again , disappointed by what is chosen to be published in BR.

    1. baconius

      Why publish this stuff before other credible evidence has been provided? In order to subject the material to the scrutiny of readers like you. Labeling the report as right-wing “conspiracy theory” does not constitute an argument. Questioning the report author’s credentials does not constitute an argument. However, Rowinguy1 does raise an interesting question — how many of these offenders simply checked the wrong box? That possibility had not occurred to me, and it warrants consideration.

  7. Larrytheg

    check what things this guy has been up to before this and you get an idea of his credibility as an objective inquirer.

    he has a clear agenda and pattern and yes it’s the same lame conspiracy theory mentality… that he has engaged in before.

    I would EXPECT voting officials to KNOW that sometimes people will register and they are not eligible to vote – and to have procedures to validate existing rolls to include determining when people have died and moved.

    that would be an expected duty on their part.

    I sit at a computer checking people in at elections and we do see people who think they are voting in our precinct and the database says otherwise – and a determination is made as to whether they are actually in another precinct or not or not registered to vote at all or registered in another county even. All kinds of questions like this – do normally arise – and are dealt with.

    Now we have a guy who is essentially saying that because registrars “find” people registered that are wrongly so – that this “proves” that there are “aliens” “illegally” registering.

    Yes, I do characterize this as right wing idiocy… because that is what it is… even processes to insure the voting rolls are correct become “conspiracies” and yes there is no shortage of fools who will read this offal and believe it.