More than 100,000 noncitizens are registered to vote in Pennsylvania alone, according to testimony submitted Monday in a lawsuit demanding the state come clean about the extent of its problems.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation, which has identified similar noncitizen voting problems in studies of Virginia and New Jersey, said Pennsylvania officials have admitted noncitizens have been registering and voting in the state “for decades.”
But state officials have stonewalled PILF requests for access to the data that could expose the problem, the group says in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Harrisburg.
“For months, Pennsylvania bureaucrats have concealed facts about noncitizens registering and voting — that ends today,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said.
He said Pennsylvania had already admitted to a “glitch” dating back to the 1990s that had allowed noncitizens applying to renew driver’s licenses to be offered the chance to register to vote. Mr. Adams said he now wants to find out how bad the problem is overall.
Pennsylvania officials wouldn’t respond to the lawsuit, nor to the 100,000 noncitizen number.
“We’re not going to comment on anything related to litigation,” said Wanda Murren, director of communications and press at the Pennsylvania Department of State.
The 100,000 number cited in the lawsuit comes from testimony given by Philadelphia Commissioner Al Schmidt, who revealed the glitch in the state motor vehicle bureau’s systems that prompted noncitizens to register to vote.
The PILF did manage to obtain some records from county officials and filed some of their findings in the new court case.
One man, Felipe Rojas-Orta, canceled his registration last year, filing a handwritten note saying he was not a citizen. He had, however, registered as a Democrat and voted in three separate elections, including most recently 2016, the year of the presidential race.
Another woman had her registration canceled in 2006 as a noncitizen, yet re-registered to vote twice — and cast ballots in some elections. That woman is still active in the system, the lawsuit says.
The federal “motor-voter” law requires states to make voter registration available at motor vehicle bureaus, but also pushes states to try to keep their voter roles clean. Under the law, private parties can sue to press states to perform the cleansing.