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    Noncitizens caught voting in U.S. elections — here’s how they did it

    Noncitizens caught voting in U.S. elections — here’s how they did it

    Illegal noncitizen voters were three times more likely to be Dems than GOP

    Voters deliver their ballot to a polling station in Tempe, Ariz., on Nov. 3, 2020. In a ruling Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton is upholding most of the provisions of new Arizona laws that would require … more >

    By Stephen Dinan -
    The Washington Times - Friday, May 3, 2024

    Eloy Alberto Zayas-Berrier was part of the Mariel boatlift that brought 125,000 Cubans, including criminals and mental hospital patients, to the U.S. in 1980.

    He has been in a bizarre legal limbo ever since. He can’t qualify for U.S. citizenship, and Cuba has refused to take him back, so he is stuck on “parole.” He remains in the U.S. with only the barest legal protections and cannot obtain a green card. He is decidedly not a citizen.

    That did not stop him from showing up at an early-voting location in North Carolina on Nov. 5, 2016. He registered, claimed to be a citizen, and cast a ballot on the same day.

    Mr. Zayas said he accompanied a friend who was planning to vote. He said the poll worker encouraged him to sign up and vote, too.

    He showed his government-issued work permit as identification. The poll worker filled out a form for Mr. Zayas, who cannot read English. He registered as a Democrat.

    To hear the fact-checkers, Mr. Zayas is rarer than a lightning strike. They say noncitizens don’t vote in U.S. elections because they have too much to lose.

    Former President Donald Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson disagree.

    In a high-profile meeting last month, the two men found common ground in declaring noncitizen voting a serious threat to ballot integrity.

    Mr. Johnson, in particular, said illegal immigrants allowed into the U.S. by President Biden’s border chaos are showing up at government offices to sign up for benefits and services. They are also encouraged to sign up to vote.

    Neither side can say with certainty whether that is common or rare, but a series of criminal cases in North Carolina shows the problem is undeniable.
    Federal prosecutors in the state brought charges against 37 noncitizens who voted in the 2016 election. Some, such as Mr. Zayas, voted in many more elections. Others were one-time voters who showed up, registered and cast ballots on the same day.

    Some trends emerged from the data.

    • The noncitizen voters were of various races and ethnicities. Seven were listed as Asian, eight as Black, 10 as Hispanic and two as White. One was multiracial, five were listed as “other” and three showed no data. One was incongruously listed as American Indian or Alaska Native.

    • The 37 migrants cast a total of at least 99 ballots in records dating back to the 1996 elections. Most voted only in federal election years, though one regularly voted in municipal elections too.

    • Some of the migrants remained on the voting rolls even after they were convicted and sentenced for their crimes.

    • The registered Democrats outnumbered the Republicans by a 3-1 ratio.
    Partisan politics seemed to play a role in registration. The assistant U.S. attorney who handled many of the cases told a judge that one official accepted a noncitizen’s application once it became clear he planned to vote for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

    Liberal-leaning civil rights groups dismiss worries about noncitizen voting as erroneous and misguided.

    “Noncitizens are not voting in federal or state elections,” the Brennan Center for Justice proclaimed in April. The law and public policy institute pointed to its survey of 42 jurisdictions from the 2016 elections and found that officials referred just 30 cases of “suspected noncitizen voting” for investigation.

    Sean Morales-Doyle, Brennan’s director of voting rights, said noncitizens have no incentives to vote. He said a criminal record resulting from illegal voting could disqualify them from citizenship.

    “And election officials conduct regular maintenance of these voter lists — in fact, they’re required to byfederal law,” he wrote.

    None of those deterrents seemed to stop Juan Francisco Landeros-Mireles.
    He joined a line of people at a food pantry one day and ended up registering to vote. He cast ballots in 2012 and 2016.

    James Todd Jr., his attorney, said Mr. Landeros-Mireles came from Mexico decades ago and is illiterate in English, so someone else filled out the form and had him sign it. Mr. Todd said he had handled a half-dozen noncitizen voting cases and the story was usually the same.

    “All I know is, your honor, it seems that even the North Carolina Board of Elections, sometimes their volunteer staffers aren’t aware,” Mr. Todd said.

    He added: “The fact of the matter is, when you go to vote in person, you are asked your name and your residence and then you’re asked to sign on the list there. There’s no questions about citizenship at that point.”

    U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III wasn’t impressed. He said voting was a basic tenet reserved for citizens.

    The judge pointed out that Mr. Landeros-Mireles already benefited from America because he was living off taxpayer-funded disability checks.

    “What a wonderful country we live in,” the judge said. “What a wonderful country that we live in that we as a society are caring for him, right? It is. It’s truly a wonderful country, right? He’s getting benefits, right?”

    He sentenced Mr. Landeros-Mireles to two years of probation, with the first two months to be served in home confinement. He approved a special exception to let Mr. Landeros-Mireles leave his home to cash his government benefit checks at Walmart.

    Judge Dever also presided over the case of Daniel Tudeusz Romanowski, a citizen of Poland who claimed to have registered and voted by accident.

    His attorney said he accompanied his girlfriend, who was applying for food stamps. Thanks to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, or “motor voter law,” both were asked to register to vote.

    “He said, ‘Can I sign up? I’m a legal permanent resident.’ And the person said, ‘I’m not sure. I can sign you up,’” said Stephen Gordon, the public defender in the case. He said Mr. Romanowski left the citizenship box blank but did sign the form to attest that he was a citizen and proceeded to vote in the 2012 and 2016 elections.

    “I just did a big mistake,” Mr. Romanowski told the judge.

    J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, which has been studying noncitizen voting, said he was struck by how “nonchalant” election officials were about noncitizens ending up on the rolls and casting ballots. He said the North Carolina cases fall “somewhere between acquiescence and collusion.”

    “It’s a blind eye,” he told The Washington Times. “It’s not being taken very seriously, and it’s lying in plain sight. Folks who say that’s not happening are not telling the truth.”

    Dora Maybe Damatta-Rodriguez blamed President Obama and Fox News for persuading her to break the law to cast a ballot.

    She came from Panama as a teen and was in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident but never obtained citizenship. In her 60s, she said, she heard Mr. Obama say in a 2016 interview that immigrants, whether in the U.S. illegally or not, didn’t need to be afraid of voting.

    Her attorney added that Fox News reported that Mr. Obama had said immigrants could vote.

    “It was when the president said that, maybe I got confused, but I was — I had so much joy,” Ms. Damatta-Rodriguez told a judge. “I was so happy that I was finally — maybe my vote could help my grandkids or my kids.”

    She said she went to election officials, showed her license and checked the citizenship box. They never questioned her claim and registered her to vote.
    “I wasn’t being sneaky. I wasn’t cheating,” Ms. Damatta-Rodriguez said. “I wasn’t trying to ruin this country.”

    Judge Louise Wood Flanagan told Ms. Damatta-Rodriguez that she knew she wasn’t a citizen. Ms. Damatta-Rodriguez countered by pointing to her history.

    “I lived here, and I had five children in this country. I raised them,” she said.

    The judge was struck by that attitude.

    “I think she did it knowing that she wasn’t authorized to vote. And I don’t detect a lot of remorse here,” Judge Flanagan said. “I think she is very happy that she voted in that election and had the opportunity, as she says, to effect change.”

    Judge Flanagan ordered Ms. Damatta-Rodriguez to serve 14 days in jail.

    That was one of the stiffer sentences meted out in the cases.

    Most ended with no jail time, and some ended with only a fine. Other cases were dismissed after the defendants finished pretrial diversion.

    Among those who got pretrial diversion was Elvis David Fullerton, who voted in 16 elections from 1999 through 2016.

    Ismay Prudence Kathleen James persuaded prosecutors to drop her case after she suggested that someone else may have registered and voted in her name.

    The Bermuda citizen came to the U.S. on a tourist visa in 1988, married an American citizen and eventually won a green card, signaling legal permanent residence in 2004.

    Investigators said she told them an immigration official assured her that a green card meant she “can do anything a United States citizen can do.” She cast ballots in seven elections and primaries from 2004 through 2016.
    Ms. James’ attorney denied she had made those statements to investigators and said state election records proved only that someone was registered and voted in her name, not that she was the one who cast those ballots.
    “A voter can be impersonated,” Alan Doorasamy said in court filings.

    Ms. James’ name has been removed from the state’s voting rolls, as have most of those who faced prosecution.

    Not all of them.

    Six of the noncitizens are listed on “inactive” status, which means they haven’t voted recently but could show up at any time.

    The state database lists Jose Jaime Torres, or Jose Jaime Ramiro-Torres, as he is listed in court documents, as an “active” voter in Washington County despite having been found guilty and sentenced in 2019 for “voting by an alien.”

    Washington County election officials referred questions about Mr. Torres to the State Board of Elections. The Times reached out to the state board for this report.

    Mr. Adams said that suggested election officials are too passive.

    “I am stunned that these have not been canceled. Upon learning that they were noncitizens, they should have been canceled,” he said.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Sebastian Kielmanovich, who prosecuted several of the cases, told one of the judges that election officials’ bunglings played a role in allowing the noncitizens to register and vote.

    “In some cases, they have shown a green card, which is actually evidence of noncitizenship because they’re here as immigrants, and they still have been registered,” he said. “So that’s a problem on its own.”

    He suggested partisan politics may be at play in the case of Mr. Landeros-Mireles, who was registered as a Democrat.

    “He was asked if he was going to vote Republican or Democrat, and he responded, ‘Para la señora,’ which means in Spanish ‘for the lady.’ And that then the employee at the polling location said, ‘Democrat, and let him vote,” Mr. Kielmanovich told the judge. “So there’s a very serious concern here that there may be some political reasons why some of these things are happening.”

    • Stephen Dinan can be reached at

    Last edited by ALIPAC; 05-22-2024 at 07:41 PM.
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