Non-Citizen Voting Suits Spread to Michigan

By Jessica M. Vaughan on September 26, 2012

A group of activists in Michigan, including the ACLU, SEIU, and the Detroit-based Latin Americans for Social and Economic Justice, has filed a lawsuit against Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to stop her from asking voters the question, "Are you a United States citizen?"

The funny thing about this lawsuit is that the alternative approach that has been suggested by the anti-integrity activists — removing ineligible voters from the registration lists — is exactly what Johnson wanted to do in the first place. These so-called "purges" are exactly what the activists' allies in the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have been trying to prevent through bureaucratic foot-dragging, intimidation, and litigation in federal court (paid for by us taxpayers).

Johnson, like a number of other state elections officials, is seeking to comply with longstanding federal mandates to improve the integrity of voter registration lists and to prevent ineligible non-citizens from voting. Colorado, Florida, Kansas, New Mexico, and Iowa have made similar efforts, as described in our recent Backgrounder, "Non-Citizen Voters: Diluting the Rights and Privileges of Citizenship". Her requests for assistance from DHS and the Social Security Administration reportedly were rebuffed four times. Hence, the decision to ask the citizenship question at the ballot box that is now being condemned as an act of "fear and xenophobia".

As was the case in other states, Michigan's review of voter lists uncovered a significant number of ineligible voters. Investigators examined a sample of 58,000 driver's license and ID card records and found 963 non-citizens registered to vote. Of these, 54 had voted a total of 95 times.

Using Census data, Johnson's staff has estimated that about 4,000 non-citizens could be registered to vote in Michigan. This is a tiny percentage of the total voting population, but could be enough to affect individual races if manipulated.