Georgia elections chief: Democrats tipped hand in court case on desire to unleash noncitizen voting

"We have a robust citizenship verification process — they wanted us to stop that, we won in court, and now we can continue to do citizenship verification," Brad Raffensperger said.

By Natalia Mittelstadt
Published: May 29, 2024 11:00pm

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says Democrats have tipped their hand to their desire to unleash noncitizen voting by opposing his state’s citizenship verification in court and he is urging elections chiefs in other states to fight such lawsuits.

Georgia’s citizenship verification system has prevented noncitizens from getting on state voter rolls, but the state had to defend it in court against a group founded by former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

In April, a federal judge dismissed the challenge to Georgia's citizenship verification process by several left-wing voting rights organizations.

One of the groups that filed the lawsuit in 2018 was New Georgia Project, which was founded by Abrams.

Fair Fight Action, also founded by Abrams, had brought a similar lawsuit that was decided in favor of the state in 2022.

According to the original complaint in the 2018 lawsuit, the groups claimed the state’s citizenship verification process violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

Georgia compares naturalized citizens’ voter registrations with the state’s Department of Driver Services (DDS) to verify citizenship. If the citizenship of a person who registers to vote cannot be verified, then they have 26 months to provide documented proof, or else their registration application will be canceled.

Raffensperger told the “Just the News, No Noise” TV show on Wednesday that what left-wing groups “want to do is stop us from doing citizenship verification during the driver's license process that we do with DDS. And we have a robust citizenship verification process — they wanted us to stop that, we won in court, and now we can continue to do citizenship verification.”

The secretary of state said that when Georgians ask him if there are any non-citizens on the state’s voter rolls, he says, “No, they aren’t, because we have the robust citizenship check that we have in place.”

Raffensperger told other secretaries of state regarding non-citizens getting on voter rolls, “You need to stop it, and you need to stop it now.”

He added that those on the left who are for non-citizens voting “want to wait till it's a big problem, then all of a sudden, what do you do? So we pushed back hard, we won our case.”

Raffensperger also referenced when Abrams ran against Brian Kemp for Georgia governor in 2018 and said, “the blue wave is … comprised of those who are documented and undocumented.”

“She talked about the blue wave, that she was going to have undocumented immigrants voting in our elections,” Raffensperger said.

“And so we've been pushing back, Brian Kemp and I, against her stolen election, her voter suppression myths, and all of her, you know, lawsuits that she's cost the state of Georgia to spend millions of dollars pushing back,” he added.

Raffensperger also mentioned how he conducted an audit in 2022 that found over 1,600 non-citizens tried to register to vote.

"We found about 1,600 people who attempted to register, but were never put on, the voter rolls because of our very robust and rigorous audit system that we have here in Georgia," he said.

However, Democrats are claiming that Republicans have said that non-citizens are voting in federal elections as a reason for losing the 2024 election.

At a congressional hearing earlier this month, Rep. Joe Morelle, D-N.Y., said that non-citizens are not voting in U.S. elections, and that Republicans are using the “non-issue” to explain why former President Donald Trump will lose the 2024 presidential election.

“This hearing is about preemptively covering Donald Trump’s lies,” Morelle said. “The hearing isn’t about law and order. It's about laying the foundation for the next big lie. It’s about saying that illegal voting is the cause of an election defeat.”

Also during that hearing, Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., flatly claimed that non-citizens are not voting in U.S. elections. Sewell introduced into evidence an opinion article by Morelle, in which he wrote, "independent sources have repeatedly debunked this myth, verifying that non-citizens voting in federal elections is extraordinarily rare and has never been shown to impact the outcome of any election."

While non-citizens are prohibited from voting in federal, state, and most local elections, California, Maryland, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., allow non-citizens to vote in local elections.

Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Ohio have all included language in their state constitutions that prohibits non-citizen voting. Meanwhile, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, and Wisconsin all have ballot measures for voters to decide this year whether non-citizens should be prohibited from voting in state elections.

Thousands of non-citizens have either been found on or prevented from being placed on voter rolls in various states over the last few years:

  • During a House Administration Committee hearing earlier this month, committee chairman Bryan Steil, R-Wis., said that 500 non-citizens are registered to vote in Washington, D.C.
  • According to a Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) report from last May, Chicago records show that 394 foreign nationals were removed from the city’s voter rolls since 2007, with 20 of them recorded as casting 85 ballots.
  • Also in May 2023, Virginia removed 1,481 voter registrations for lack of U.S. citizenship.
  • In April 2023, PILF reported that Maricopa County, Ariz., records showed that since 2015, 222 foreign nationals were removed from the county’s voter rolls, with nine of them recorded as casting 12 ballots across four federal elections.
  • According to a February PILF report, since 2021, 186 registrants were removed from voter rolls Pima County, Ariz., for lack of U.S. citizenship. Of those, seven had cast ballots in two federal and local elections.
  • The Pennsylvania Department of State announced in September 2017 that records indicated 1,160 non-citizens had since 1972 requested their voter registrations be canceled.
  • At the end of 2021, then-Texas Secretary of State John Scott (R) released the results of the first phase of his audit of the states's voter rolls, which found that 11,737 potential non-U.S. citizens were identified as being registered to cast ballots, with many located in the counties around Texas' two largest cities of Houston and Dallas.
  • Earlier this month, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) directed all 88 counties to begin a removal process for non-citizens on Ohio's voter rolls following a review by his office's Public Integrity Division and Office of Data Analytics and Archives. The review analyzed data from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) and found 137 voter registrations of non-citizens who had twice confirmed their lack of U.S. citizenship.
  • Another PILF report noted that ahead of the 2014 midterm elections, North Carolina found that 1,454 individuals on state voter rolls were not naturalized U.S. citizens. Of those, 89 registrants appeared at polling places, 24 of which were challenged, with 11 of the challenges sustained.