May 2, 2013
LANSING -Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today announced the Attorney General's Criminal Division has filed a criminal charge against José Antonio Ramirez-Velázquez, a citizen of Mexico, for registering to vote and voting while residing in Roseville, Michigan. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Border Patrol and the Roseville Police Department.
"The right to vote is sacred and must be protected for all American citizens," said Schuette. "Strict enforcement of state election laws preserves the integrity of our democratic system."
"A vote is each person's voice on Election Day, and that voice shouldn't be diluted by unqualified voters," Johnson said. "This example shows why my efforts to make clear that only citizens must vote when voters pick up their ballot were needed."
Ramirez-Velázquez, 47, of Roseville, has been charged in Macomb County's 39th District Court with one count of Making a Material False Statement When Registering to Vote, a 90-day misdemeanor. The fraud came to authorities' attention in December 2012 when Ramirez-Velázquez allegedly told police and U.S. Border Patrol agents that he had voted in federal elections. Investigation confirmed Ramirez-Velázquez's status as a Mexican citizen. The charge alleges Ramirez-Velázquez's illegal voter registration allowed him to vote in elections held in November 2004, November 2006 and November 2008.
Ramirez-Velázquez will surrender to authorities for arraignment in 39th District Court on May 3, 2013.
A criminal charge is merely an accusation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Johnson successfully pushed to add new language to the ballot application to make clear that only U.S. citizens may cast ballots. The May 7 election will be the first election to use the new language that was approved by the Legislature and signed into law. Johnson also has sought assistance from the federal government with identifying noncitizen voters, but her requests so far have not been granted.
The charges filed today come less than a month after a noncitizen was convicted and sentenced for voting in Michigan. A Panamanian citizen living in Berrien County was sentenced to jail and community service for voting in 2008.