Shortly after Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill that would have made it easier to weed noncitizens out of the state’s voter rolls in November of last year, The News & Observer in Raleigh published a fact-check surrounding the issue. By fact-check, what I mean is an apologia for Cooper.
The bill would have cross-referenced state voter rolls with courthouse records, preventing those who were unable to serve on a jury because they were noncitizens from voting.
Cooper said there were already precautions in place, as the state cross-references against organizations such as the Division of Motor Vehicles and the Social Security Administration as is required by federal law.
Adding the new regulation, he claimed, “creates a high risk of voter harassment and intimidation and could discourage citizens from voting” because of the potential for false positives.
A good deal further down the page of The N&O’s fact-check: “In an audit of the 2016 elections, North Carolina investigators caught 41 voters — out of 4.8 million — who cast a ballot despite being a citizen of another country.”
Even further: “In 2018, a federal prosecutor in North Carolina charged 19 immigrants with illegally voting in 2016. Some of those cases have ended with minor fines, the N&O has reported, while others have yet to be decided.”
That seems to be the magic number for this, because charges of voting as noncitizens against 19 more North Carolinians were publicly announced Wednesday.
“These charges are the latest indictments to result from an ongoing years-long federal criminal investigation being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Raleigh office,” the release read.
“A federal grand jury in Wilmington charged seven foreign nationals on August 31 on federal felony charges including falsely claiming U.S. citizenship or making false statements on voter registration application, and with misdemeanor charges of unlawfully casting ballots in the 2016 presidential election.”
Those individuals, according to WBTV-TV, were Francisco Antonio-Aguirre, 64, of Dobson; Roob Kaur Atar-Singh, 57, of Raeford; Rosalva Negrete-Toledo, 65, of Winston-Salem; Dave Delano Virgil, 57, of Winston-Salem; Eloy Alberto Zayas-Berrier, 70, of Pelham; Mokhtar Qaid Ahmed Gulaimid, 48, of Raeford; and Emmanuel Olakunle Atoyebi, 31, of Greensboro.
Gulaimid, meanwhile, also faces charges including making a false statement in an immigration document and a false statement in a naturalization proceeding.
Twelve more were charged with the misdemeanor of unlawfully casting ballots as foreign nationals in a federal election on Aug. 13 by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.
One of the defendants also voted in the federal election in 2018, the Justice Department said.
On the more serious felony charges, those charged face up to six years in federal prison, fines of up to $350,000 and then terms of supervised release.
Even on the misdemeanor charges, however, individuals can face up to a year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine.
The cases are being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin for the Middle District of North Carolina.
So, again — more evidence the system works, right?
Well, not exactly.
The numbers here aren’t huge, granted. However, the flaw in the argument is that this is all there is. Those who fall through the cracks definitionally fall through the cracks. We don’t know how many in number they are because, by definition, we don’t know them. They’re admittedly small in number, given the risk/reward of voting as a noncitizen. But do they exist?
Republicans are oft told that we’re sowing distrust in our voting system when we question the safeguards that are erected around it — particularly when so many ballots will be cast by mail this cycle.
The problem isn’t our distrust in the system, however. The problem is the system isn’t worth trusting.
Yes, this is a small problem, but it’s indicative of larger issues caused by the Democrats’ relative laxity at the ballot box.
Take mail-in voting. Please. In New York City, over 20 percent of ballots were rejected during the June 23 primary. In Clark County, Nevada — home to Las Vegas — a staggering 223,000 ballots weren’t even able to be delivered. That’s 17 percent.
Republicans have been calling for tighter voter security and better maintenance of the voting rolls for years. For that, we’ve been called bigots who want to stop people from voting and win elections at all costs.
This is evidence in a microcosm. Last November, a simple measure to stop noncitizens from voting in North Carolina couldn’t even become law because Cooper claimed it “creates a high risk of voter harassment and intimidation and could discourage citizens from voting.”
A little less than a year later, in the governor’s swing state, we’re reminded yet again that Democrats will find any reason to avoid scrutinizing the voting process.
Yes, Virginia, there is voter fraud, and the desire to believe it’s rare doesn’t make it so.
Nineteen more people charged and we’ve all but forgotten about a small change to the law that could have prevented this from happening again in 2020.
The bigger changes we could have made in the past decade or two may live to haunt us all.
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