Elon Musk’s X bans post about illegal immigrant voting, calls it hate speech

By Stephen Dinan - The Washington Times - Monday, April 22, 2024

Elon Musk’s X banned a post that claimed noncitizens are registering and voting in U.S. elections on a wide scale, saying it was “hate speech” and violated the platform’s terms because it attacked a “protected group.”

Americans for Legal Immigration PAC said it received the warning after it used its advertising account to highlight the noncitizen voting issue.

The offending message from ALIPAC read, “Non-citizens & illegal migrants are registering & voting in our elections on a wide scale!” That was pasted over an image of a truth-meter rating of “TRUE.”

After asking for an explanation from X, the PAC received a perplexing response with a new explanation that the ad contained “political content” aimed at a country where that was not allowed. ALIPAC pushed again, and X doubled down on its hate speech label and shut down the conversation by saying it was no longer “monitoring” the email exchange with ALIPAC.

William Gheen, the group’s founder, was shocked by the hate speech label.

“I think they’re objecting to anybody sharing the truth about noncitizen voters. That’s their real motivation. They’re like, ‘Oh, can’t be talking about that this close to the election,’” Mr. Gheen said. “There’s a party line out there, and the official party line is this is an issue that’s only of concern to right-wing nuts and racists, and anything that goes up against this official party line gets swatted down.”

Mr. Gheen said he spent $30 on ads to boost the post and it got about 43,000 views before things slowed down. When he went to look, he said only about $13 of his spending had been completed and X had disabled the ad.

He asked what was going on and was met with the reply that someone had “manually reviewed” the post and confirmed it “violates our Hateful Content policy.” X said that includes “Hate speech or advocacy against a protected group, individual, or organization” and “Degrading references to events or practices that negatively affected a protected group.”

Mr. Gheen said that was all the weirder because Facebook, usually seen as more draconian in its limits on posts, has allowed his post to run with no problems.
X didn’t respond to repeated inquiries by The Washington Times for this article.

The company’s email address for press inquiries automatically replies to messages with “Busy now, please check back later.”

ALIPAC and X are clashing as noncitizen voting makes headlines, prompted in large part by former President Donald Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson. They emerged from a meeting this month declaring reining in noncitizen voting a key joint goal.

“It seems like common sense. I’m sure all of us would agree, we only want U.S. citizens to vote in U.S. elections,” Mr. Johnson said.

The focus combines two major Republican issues: election integrity and the chaos in immigration. Millions of illegal immigrants have been caught and released into communities over the past three years.

Mr. Johnson and Mr. Trump said they think one reason the Biden administration hasn’t been quicker to crack down is that they are hoping the migrants cast illegal ballots.
Only U.S. citizens are allowed to vote in federal elections, though some jurisdictions allow noncitizen voting — including, in some cases, illegal immigrants — for local elections.

Pushback to Mr. Trump and Mr. Johnson was swift. News organizations that covered the announcement denied any major issue with noncitizen voting.

NBC said the practice is “already illegal and very rare.” CNN said the current system “is working and effectively prevents mass voting by noncitizens.”

That is the consensus of most analysts, who say noncitizen voting is so rare as to be irrelevant to the outcome of national elections.

After Mr. Trump complained about noncitizen votes in the 2016 election, which he said bolstered Hillary Clinton’s tally, the Brennan Center looked at 42 jurisdictions nationwide covering 23.5 million votes and tallied just 30 instances when an investigation was launched into noncitizen voting. That works out to one investigation for every 783,000 votes cast.

Other analysts say it is a real issue, albeit one election officials do a poor job of policing, so the extent of the problem is unknown.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation has filed lawsuits to pry loose voter registration information from many jurisdictions and found instances where noncitizens came forward to ask that their names be stricken from the rolls. They acknowledged that they shouldn’t have been registered to vote in the first place.

In Maricopa County, Arizona, the Public Interest Legal Foundation reported last year that more than 200 noncitizens were registered and at least nine of them cast ballots in federal elections. Both registering and voting are crimes.

Few have been prosecuted, though the Justice Department under Mr. Trump charged nearly 40 people in North Carolina with voting despite lacking citizenship.

Among those charged was Elvis David Fullerton, who, according to state records, cast ballots in 16 elections from 1999 through 2016, including at least three Democratic primaries and every presidential election during that time.

Mr. Fullerton was given a pretrial diversion agreement requiring him to report to the probation office and alert election officials to have his name removed from the rolls. He completed his conditions, and his case was dismissed.

Diversionary agreements and fines were the standard sentences in most cases, though some were ordered to serve probation.

The issue, Republicans say, is that voting works mainly on the honor system. People can register by filling out the form and checking a citizenship box and never produce evidence of their eligibility.

During a congressional hearing last week, Republicans asked Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas what he is doing to prevent newly arrived illegal immigrants from registering and voting.

“I believe that it is state and local election officials that monitor the eligibility of individuals. We do not oversee the election enrollment process,” he said, though he assured lawmakers that election security is “a priority” for his department.

Republicans confronted Mr. Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland with a flyer that they said was found at a migrant aid organization in Mexico encouraging noncitizens to vote.

Mr. Garland said he had never seen the poster but his department would investigate reports of noncitizens who cast ballots.

“The Department of Justice is concerned about any illegalities with respect to voting,” the attorney general said.

Mr. Gheen, at ALIPAC, said he took care in his post to use terminology such as “migrant” to refer to the border newcomers and avoided hot-button terms such as “alien.”

He said he doesn’t blame Mr. Musk, who has posted numerous items about the Biden border chaos, but figures employees left over from Twitter, the former name of X, still have too much power.
“I’m not removing that content because we believe that noncitizen and illegal migrant voters are a serious concern. We believe we have a lot of documentation that indicates that,” he told The Times.

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