By Mark Burkhalter
For the Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/15/08
Without a second thought, many of us will exercise the right to vote today.
But there is emerging evidence that the integrity of elections nationwide
may be compromised due to the influx of noncitizens who have registered to
In Texas, Florida, Maryland, California and even in Georgia, there is
evidence that illegal aliens may have voted in past elections. The discovery
has been made when clerks of court in some Georgia counties have received
correspondence from potential jurors declining to serve on juries because
they were not citizens. In 2005 in one federal district court alone, the
U.S. General Accounting Office found that up to 3 percent of the 30,000
people summoned for jury duty were not citizens, according to the Heritage
Foundation. Considering that the majority in the Georgia House changed hands
in 2004 due to just six races with a combined margin of victory of 3,000
votes, the integrity of every vote should be important to both political
It is now time to take steps to make sure illegal aliens are not voting,
especially since an estimated 800,000 of the 20 million in this country now
live in Georgia. No matter how you feel about illegal immigration, no one
can dispute that voting is a right reserved only for United States citizens.
The concept seems so simple, yet there is only one state that has taken bold
steps to prevent noncitizens from tainting its elections — Arizona.
In 2005, Arizona voters adopted Proposition 200, which mandates that anyone
who registers to vote must prove they are a U.S. citizen with documents such
as a birth certificate, passport, naturalization credentials or other papers
that prove citizenship for employment.
Since Arizona's adoption of Proposition 200, about 30,000 noncitizens have
been denied voter registration because they could not provide evidence of
citizenship, according to the Heritage Foundation.
Proving citizenship is particularly important in Georgia as we have allowed
outside groups such as ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for
Reform Now) to register voters. Under our current system, a convicted felon
could theoretically be released from prison and start registering voters for
groups with political agendas the next day.
Outside groups that register voters don't have to ask for identification,
let alone proof of citizenship when registering voters. Potential voters do
have to sign a form swearing they are citizens but don't have to offer
proof, making the form meaningless.
It is interesting to note that eight of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001,
were registered to vote although none were in this country legally.
According to Georgia elections officials, an additional 300,000 people have
registered to vote in our state since Jan. 1. That compares with 500,000
names added to voter rolls between the 2004 presidential election and Jan. 1
of this year.
In addition to requiring proof of citizenship to register, the Legislature
should change state law so that any person who refuses jury duty citing
citizenship would automatically be purged from voter rolls.
Federal law says it is a crime for any illegal alien to vote in any federal
election. Each state has laws requiring voters to be citizens prior to
voting. But evidence emerging in metro Atlanta alone shows that noncitizens
do show up on voter rolls. Somewhere along the way, there has been a blatant
disregard for the law.
In 2000, George W. Bush won the presidency by just 500 votes cast in
Florida. In Georgia, we have had state House members win seats the past two
election cycles by margins as close as 35 votes, and one primary race as
close as five votes. From the presidency down to the smallest city council
race, election integrity is vital to all Americans.
One of the greatest freedoms we possess as U.S. citizens is the right to
vote. Every illegal vote cast dilutes the votes of those of us who are
legitimate citizens and undermines the credibility of our great democratic