The truth about illegal voting

The truth about illegal voting
© Greg Nash

As we continue to sort our way through election chaos in Florida and witness attorneys for both Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonCoal supporter Manchin named top Dem on Senate Energy Committee GOP opens door to new NC election amid fraud claims More than 6,000 mail-in ballots in Florida were not counted: officials MORE and Andrew Gillum object to a noncitizen ballot being excluded from vote counts, the question for many Americans remains, “Can illegal aliens actually vote in our elections?”

The simple answer is yes, of course they can, and they do. It is usually illegal, but not always. According to federal law, noncitizens are expressly prohibited from voting in federal elections in the United States. In fact, voting as an illegal alien in federal elections is a crime punishable by law.

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Under 18 USC § 611, “It shall be unlawful for any alien to vote in any election held solely or in part for the purpose of electing a candidate for the office of president, vice president, presidential elector, member of the Senate, member of the House of Representatives.” A violation of this section can result in a fine with up to one year in prison.

Furthermore, 8 USC § 1227 provides, “Any alien who has voted in violation of any federal, state, or local constitutional provision, statute, ordinance, or regulation is deportable.” Finally, 8 USC § 1182 provides, “Any alien who has voted in violation of any federal, state, or local constitutional provision, statute, ordinance, or regulation is inadmissible,” meaning ineligible to receive visas and be admitted to the United States.

Thus, under federal law, voting as an illegal alien in federal elections is a crime punishable by fine, imprisonment, deportation, or inadmissibility. However, not everyone who violates these statutes is caught or brought to justice. Information on the exact number of illegal aliens who have voted in our country is debatable and arguably undeterminable, but some academic estimates have been high enough to “change meaningful election outcomes” and tend to favor Democrats over Republicans.

Currently, 12 states and the District of Columbia allow noncitizens to obtain drivers licenses. Oftentimes, these illegal aliens are added to the voter rolls at the time they renew their drivers licenses without any attempt made on behalf of the government to verify their United States citizenship. Thus, this loophole in the system is part of the problem.

Furthermore, there is no information pertaining to state and local elections. The United States code says absolutely nothing about the inability of noncitizens to vote in these elections. This means that it is left up to the states to decide whether illegal aliens can vote in these races. As of 1926, every state across the country has outlawed noncitizen voting in state elections, but the same has not been done for local elections.

Proponents of noncitizen voting support places like San Francisco, College Park, and Cambridge, which are just a few of the many cities where noncitizens have the right to participate in American elections. These supporters argue that excluding the votes of illegal aliens on a state and national level is not constitutionally required by nor in line with historical norms, pushing for noncitizen voting across the country.

However, while not constitutionally required, there are clear reasons to support the continued ban on noncitizen voting as well as to push for change in the many cities in the 11 states that allow illegal aliens to vote in some form on the local level. “Extending voting rights to those who are not lawfully present in the United States acts like another incentive for foreign nationals to come to the United States illegally and stay,” House Judiciary Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteTrump attorney general pick a prolific donor to GOP candidates, groups: report GOP, Comey have tense day — with promise of a second date The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Trump taps William Barr as new AG | Nauert picked to replace Haley at UN | Washington waits for bombshell Mueller filing MORE explained after a key resolution vote.

He is absolutely right. Allowing noncitizens to participate in even our lowest level of elections may disincentivize them from going through the proper immigration channels to obtain citizenship and may actually encourage them to continue voting illegally on the state and national levels. We simply cannot afford to let this become a bigger issue.

Our lawmakers have struggled to produce meaningful immigration reform, and the reality remains that more needs to be done to protect our elections. It starts with stopping noncitizen voting along with protecting states and cities to ensure lawmakers do not overreach in an attempt to support ideas like those put forth by people like the attorneys in Florida.

As someone whose family immigrated to the United States less than 100 years ago, I am proud to be an American and respect the constitutional rights given to me under my citizenship. I know I speak for many when I say I want these rights to be protected on all levels of government.

Madison Gesiotto is an attorney and political commentator who is vice president at X Strategies and serves as an advisory board member of the Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpActivists highlight Trump ties to foreign autocrats in hotel light display Jose Canseco pitches Trump for chief of staff: ‘Worried about you looking more like a Twinkie everyday’ Dershowitz: Mueller's report will contain 'sins' but no 'impeachable offense' MORE campaign. She was also an inauguration spokesperson and is a former Miss Ohio. You can follow her on Twitter @MadisonGesiotto.