Analysts of President Trump would do well to heed Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, a pariah among his peers for his support for Trump. Thiel notes that Trump’s supporters “take his Tweets seriously but not literally.” Reporters and pundits scrutinizing Trump should do the same. Only if the goal is to gin up confusion, apprehension and hysteria, should Trump’s comments be taken literally.
Trump is a salesman with the style of a carnival barker. In “The Art of the Deal” he confesses to the practice of “truthful hyperbole” in a sales pitch. The sale process is distinct from construction planning or budget analysis.
TRUMP LIED!! Is the oft-used headline in a press that knows better. A good example was the reaction to Trump’s assertion that 3-5 million people voted illegally in November and that, but for those votes, he would have won the popular vote. The statement is not a lie or even an “alternative fact.” It is an opinion. As no one knows the extent of illegal voting in the United States, it cannot be said that Trump’s opinion on the subject is wrong and certainly not that it is a lie.
It is a fact that some people vote illegally. The extent of that illegal voting is what Donald Rumsfeld would call a “known unknown,” that is, we know there’s a number but we don’t know what it is. Since the extent of illegal voting has not been seriously investigated or measured, an opinion about it depends up one’s worldview, political views and degree of cynicism about human behavior.
But there is at least some illegal voting.
- In a 2015 decision the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) ordered a green card holder removed from the United States for having registered and voted in a US election. In this particular case, after obtaining her green card, the woman applied for a driver’s license, which also included a voter registration application, in which she checked a box indicating she was a US citizen.
- A Wall Street Journal editorial this month argues for commutation of the lengthy prison sentence of a Texas woman, imprisoned in Texas on a felony conviction for voting by a noncitizen. She had been voting for years.
- A small Virginia survey by the J. Christian Adams Public Interest Law Firm in 8 (of 130) counties identified aliens removed from the voter rolls but not before many had voted.
Confronted with actual voting fraud, Democrats say, “It’s anecdotal.” There’s “no proof” of a large amount of voting fraud. If so, it’s because attempts to investigate have been intentionally hampered by politicians with an interest in promoting illegal voting.
In states like Virginia, currently controlled by Democrats state officials stonewall investigations into voting rolls claiming the information regarding noncitizens on the voting rolls is protected by “privacy.” Even where state officials want to investigate, they have been stymied by a Democratic administration in Washington.
It is difficult for local voting authorities to confirm the citizenship status of registrants. Although the law requires the Federal government to provide local authorities with information about legal and illegal immigrants the Obama administration played “hide the ball” by refusing to provide states with information from IRS and Homeland Security records about illegal voter registrations.
“Motor Voter” laws tempt resident aliens to register to vote like the woman in the Board of Immigration Appeals case mentioned above. All that is necessary is to check “Yes” instead of “No” to a question about citizenship. Absent investigation there is simply no way to determine the extent of illegal voting by resident aliens. California, the home of the Clinton popular vote majority (the vote totals from all other states combined give a popular vote majority to Trump), freely grants drivers licenses not only to resident aliens but to undocumented noncitizens-about one million of them so far.
Although it is a requirement that an applicant for citizenship be able to speak, read and write English, the Federal Voting Rights Act requires communities to provide ballots in foreign languages based upon the number of voting age citizens with limited English skills. There are now 263 counties, cities and other jurisdictions in 29 states subject this requirement. The availability of these ballots facilitates voting by noncitizens.
A lot of naïvete is required to think many noncitizens are not tempted to register and vote and even more to imagine that Democratic “ground game” organizers do not encourage it.
The fallback position of defenders of lax monitoring is “No election outcome has been shown to be affected by illegal voting.” That is not true.
After a lengthy recount in 2008 the US Senate seated Democrat Al Franken on a straight party line vote. Franken, ironically the author of the 2004 “Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them,” was declared elected by 314 votes. After he was seated it was found that 1,200 convicted felons had voted which was illegal in Minnesota. A survey by a local TV station found 90% of the felons voted for Franken who turned out to be the 60th vote for Obamacare
President Trump stirred the pot more recently in a meeting with current Senators and former NH Senator Kelly Ayotte. The President claimed that she and he had both been defeated in that state by busloads of Massachusetts residents taking advantage of New Hampshire’s “same day” voter registration law. If prospective voters don’t have a photo ID or utility bill, they are permitted to vote in New Hampshire, upon signing “under the penalties of perjury” as to their residency.
That such illegal voting regularly occurs is an article of faith among New Hampshire Republicans. The assertion is derided to a similar extent among Democrats on the ground of “no proof” which is true enough, as no one has ever investigated the Election Day voter registrations.
Massachusetts Democrats, because of their redundancy at home, are transported by the busload to aid in voter turnout in the swing state to the north. Human nature and the ease of same day registration suggest some of them may succumb to temptation. A Boston political report says anyone who believes no Massachusetts residents vote in New Hampshire probably believes no Massachusetts residents have New Hampshire license plates. It seems that both sides prefer the argument to an investigation and the truth.
Democrats and Republicans seem to agree though on which party illegal votes generally support. As a rule, Democrats support easy immigration and retention of undocumented immigrants and resist Voter ID and other checks on illegal voting. Republicans oppose uncontrolled immigration, want undocumented immigrants located and deported if charged with a crime and support Voter ID laws.
Immigrants with “Refugee” status are exempt from the requirement of § 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act that an individual seeking admission not be “likely at any time to become a public charge.” Democrats want refugees admitted freely. Republicans want them scrutinized first.
Both parties have high-sounding arguments for their positions but they are based on a cold political calculus. Immigrants, with exceptions like Cubans in Miami, vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Exceptions to the rule, like a few noncitizen voters who voted for Trump, were newsworthy only because they were so odd. Noncitizens “likely to become a public charge” are not promising Republican voters.
Democrats accuse the Republicans of Voter Suppression and Republicans accuse the Democrats of Voter Fraud.
Certainly the Democrats and Republicans alike, holding those views, would expect any noncitizen votes to have been cast overwhelmingly against Mr. Trump.
It is time for a serious Federal investigation into illegal voter registration. New Hampshire seems a good place to start.