Secretary of State
DECEMBER 5, 2013
10 individuals appear to have voted repeatedly over several years
LANSING, Mich. – Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has asked Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's office to investigate 10 individuals, verified as non-U.S. citizens through federal records, who have voted, including one whose voting record stretches back a decade.
"The law is clear – you must be a U.S. citizen to register to vote and to vote on Election Day," said Johnson. "We have races that are decided on a handful of votes and ballots cast by ineligible voters cancel out those by legitimate voters."
In a letter to Schuette, Johnson said they were referring the cases "for investigation, and if appropriate, prosecution."
The individuals, who are not being identified because of the ongoing investigation, are registered voters from Kent, Macomb, Oakland, Roscommon and Wayne counties. Over the past 10 years, records show they voted in various presidential and gubernatorial elections. They were identified during a review of a sample of driver records. Federal officials have repeatedly refused to help state officials identify and remove noncitizens from Michigan's full qualified voter file. Secretary of State officials verified non-citizenship status through available federal records. They also verified their voting records with local clerks.
Last month, Johnson's office sent letters to more than 600 registered Michigan voters, verified as non-U.S. citizens by federal records, asking them to contact state election officials to be removed from Michigan's voter rolls. After the October letter was sent out, dozens of people responded and requested to be immediately removed from Michigan's voter rolls. The 10 individuals referred to the Attorney General's office did receive the letter.
Election officials acknowledge that some non-citizens on the voter rolls may have registered inadvertently because for decades, Secretary of State branch clerks were required by the federal government to ask every customer, regardless of citizenship, if they wanted to register to vote. Procedures have since changed.
Noncitizens who register and vote can face criminal charges and hurt their ability to become a U.S. citizen. Recently, a noncitizen who resided in Macomb County was charged with voter fraud for registering to vote. In Berrien County, another noncitizen was sentenced to 10 days in jail for voter fraud for voting in the 2008 election. In Kalamazoo County, a noncitizen who believed he was legally able to vote had his attempt at becoming a U.S. citizen jeopardized in 2011 after federal officials determined he had voted numerous times.
Since her election, Johnson has taken a hard line on election integrity issues. Her Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) initiative included one law requiring voters to attest, when they sign their ballot applications, that they meet all qualifications to vote, including age, residence and U.S. citizenship.
She also expanded the use of Social Security lists to remove those who have died from the voter rolls and joined a 21-state project to cross-check voter registration records to identify those who are registered in Michigan and another state.
At the same time, Johnson has expanded efforts to encourage those who are eligible to register and vote. Secretary of State employees offer voter registration to those who are eligible to vote, birthday postcards are sent to 18-year-olds with a license or state ID reminding them to register to vote. State election workers also attend naturalization ceremonies throughout the state, offering voter registration to newly sworn citizens. Her mobile office promotes voter registration throughout the state.
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