Secretary of State Ruth Johnson brings a great problem to the table. Seems there are citizens and non-citizens voting in the great state of Michigan. And of course, we shouldn’t have that. But let’s look a little closer before we start another cycle of rhetoric and fear.
As Secretary Johnson reports, “The whole reason we have non-U.S. citizens on our rolls in the first place is because for more than 30 years the feds required us to ask every customer if they wanted to register to vote, regardless of citizenship,” Johnson said. “So today, we could have 4,000 people on our voter rolls who don’t belong there – that’s the population of cities like Bloomfield Hills or Durand.”
Thirty years? In one place? One nationality? One party? Secretary Johnson isn’t being very specific, especially when declaring they just decided to check driver’s licenses for something rather arbitrary with no previous alarm for 30 years. Also, they’re not all in the same city, or listed in the same district, are they? Why the fear of Bloomfield Hills being overrun by immigrant votes?
Because Bloomfield Hills is vulnerable to the scourge of permanent residents who may have mistakenly said “yes” at the SoS? Was I flagged or my family flagged at SoS because we have a “permanent resident” in our family?
Per the release on the State of Michigan website, there is plausible evidence that there are non-citizens who have voted in elections. I actually think that’s something to work on. But if you know your voting bureaucracy, the massive amount of money spent on modernizing our Michigan QVF (Qualified Voter File) is really far more troubling than 54 of 7.2 million voters making a Red Dawn of the voting booth.
I’m concerned, but not so much for the non-citizen votes. I’m concerned about the use of our information for other purposes. Let’s look at the anomaly of non-citizen voting, and really see what you’re paying taxes for. And for the record, permanent residents do pay taxes that isolate them in voting xenophobia.
Extrapolation doesn’t mean fact:
“Michigan Department of State staff verified that almost 1,000 people who are noncitizens are registered to vote, despite only having access to about 19 percent of complete citizenship data. Staff compared about 58,000 driver’s license and personal identification card records where citizenship status could be verified back to 2010 with voter registration records. Of those, 54 appear to have a voting history in the state’s qualified voter files for a total of 95 votes.”
We don’t know why 19 percent of citizenship data is being used to cross-check 7.2 million voters, the time frame listed, or where the heck the 19% of citizenship data came from (past border/customs or one big peek into the federal DHS system). I don’t remember that being in the QVF primer for why we have this voting system, nor a priority listed in the Michigan Auditor General report of May (pdf) 2012.
In 2010, the VAP (Voting Age Population) of the state was 7.6 million, and 7.2 million were registered to vote. That’s far from the actual votes cast (3.27 million), which is a good thing overall, with less than 50% participation, any single vote can be significant, especially in primaries on both sides. Also, if you really read the report, the non-citizen concern is nowhere to be found, and the bigger problem were dead absentee voters (obviously) and OMNI/DOC criminals.
The biggest problem for the dead absentee voters was that they still voted absentee. And not to throw stones (as both sides are guilty), it’s more likely that GOPers vote absentee more than Dems. So it’s plausible that plenty of dead absentee voters are conservatives. It’s not to excuse the Dems, but let’s be real, this entire circus is about scaring conservatives.
“…54 appear to have a voting history…”
Staff at Secretary of State took 58,000 driver’s licenses and checked them. Arbitrarily? Did they have an authorized directive to look at 58,000 Michigan residents and check their “status”? It’s not right to have 54 people voting that shouldn’t. But we have a pretty good 3 million good votes to the 54 total. So why is the statement, “54 appear to have a voting history…” when it should be, “54 pending charges for felony voter fraud?” Add in 95 votes from the 54, and you should have AG Schuette on the case for multiple counts of voter fraud in a joint statement. But the word, “appeared” really concerns me on so many levels, both political and legally.
After all, you level a charge like this, you’d better parse your words carefully.
Why after 30 years?
“Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, said of today’s announcement: “Elections in Michigan are often won and lost by incredibly close margins. We must make every effort to have the cleanest voter rolls we can. The fact that we have noncitizens on our voter rolls and casting ballots should concern all eligible voters whose voices are being diluted by those who shouldn’t be voting.”
State Rep. Pete Lund, R-Shelby Township, agreed, saying: “We know that noncitizens have been invited to register to vote for decades with many doing so, whether they’ve done it intentionally or not. Putting noncitizens on notice that casting a ballot is a serious crime is a simple, common-sense solution to this problem.”
Wait. Registered to vote for decades? Meaning that all this time, 4,000 maximum possible extrapolated non-citizens could have been registered to vote over the past 20-30 years? Were they all registered at once? Was this riot of non-citizen voters present during the 1990 showdown between Engler and Blanchard?
There are so many questions that have no information that this should be a farce. Some 58,000 driver’s licenses were checked for something that isn’t even on the radar at the Michigan Auditor General’s office. And the rating by the AudGen notes “moderately effective,” likely because they’re chasing xenophobic windmills instead of really fixing problems regarding the QVF and other important issues.
The truth is with the massively incomplete data, 54 of 58,000 DLs “appeared” to have voted. And if you honestly extrapolate the numbers, 270-280 votes were cast that shouldn’t have been. This is 1/5 of the dead absentee votes, and even less than convicted criminals (who often sign petitions).
And I can’t stress “appeared” enough in the context of non-citizen votes, because it covers the SoS from actually prosecuting someone, or opening a can of worms in how they can cross-check our citizenship by a DL.
I can understand 1,000 registrations across 20-30 years. It’s backscatter by overzealous Dems and Reps as they pay people to register anyone in sight. One thousand registrations in 20 years is 50 per year, or $50 for a cheating registration worker, or $5 extra for medium-cheating contractors across 10 urban centers, suburbs, etc., etc.
QVF anomalies are actually well-investigated, and the agencies involved do a lot of work to work on issues related to the modernization and compliance in the voting process. But non-citizen voter fraud is so far down the list, it’s not even on the list.
That’s what you get when you divide 54 into 58,000. And as for registrations, they’re no longer in the QVF…are they? I’d think that would be important to note in a press release. Extrapolating the number of non-citizens is problematic, as is the odd estimate of 304,000 Michigan non-citizen residents. This number is already a stretch if you’re willing to mess with .csv files (265,650 +/- 4450)
Also, the estimate is hardly going to flag the real problem here, which is voter registration processes. I support a qualification process. I don’t support the gathering of data in one place, especially when we’re quickly becoming a virtual data nation. It’s less the #infowars dread as it is the #hacked threads that scare me about my information.
And I’m not against a good cleaning of the QVF. But this has nothing important tagged with it with 50 days to an election.
Now, had we known the locations or specific areas of non-citizen registration, then we might have a targeted location for concern, and a valid announcement by the SoS, if they isolated the methodology for the hits they received. If it was a backscatter result, it’s likely the results are far from sinister, but the natural process of having low-bid programmers program the file that controls our voting rights.
I am a staunch advocate for voting rights and security. I also believe that some things do happen as an error, or as a product of federal funding mandates.
But this isn’t a big deal, and wasting time and announcements shows that there’s an aim to all of this, especially with the sheer lack of data to back all of this up.
After 30 years, as well … unless there’s a political point to it, why are we crying now? If we just had a spike in non-citizen registrations, a listing of voter fraud in one cycle, I’d be on board here. But I also know the registration folks who work the city and the suburbs, and they’re very serious about their work, even as volunteers who get nothing for their time.
Also, if the SoS conducts these operations to check your status from your driver’s license, what else do they do in their spare time? Do they check other things on your DL? Shouldn’t you ask if your DL was used for this closed-door experiment?
After all, if we can find 54 of 58,000, why not check for other things like how many of those 58,000 DLs were used to confirm work registration (pdf), something all businesses fill out, and only need to provide “optional” DL information on documenting their workers? Seems optional information being used by an SoS study would be interesting to learn about. How did 19% of citizenship records show up at SoS again?
Or we could have spent more time on checking Thad McCotter’s petitions for the past few cycles .. .right? Maybe see where fake tea party members got their $100,000 for a petition that changed the face of the 2010 state elections?
What’s the priority here? Hardly citizenship.