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More Claims of Voter Fraud by Illegal Immigrants

With midterms a day away and early voting already underway in a number of states, conservatives and anti-illegal immigration groups are claiming that large numbers of undocumented immigrants are attempting to vote in an effort to sway election results toward Democrats. Groups like the pro-enforcement Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, or ALIPAC, are urging their supporters to watch the polls for signs of voter fraud — which immigrant rights groups say amounts to voter intimidation.

Allegations of voter fraud are mostly baseless, but they still get plenty of attention. Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said last week that there was no proof of widespread or systematic voter fraud. At issue, apparently, was the large number of voter registrations by Mi Familia Vota, a national organization that encourages Latinos to vote. But the group did not submit fraudulent registration forms — an Arizona TV station reported some requests for early voting were rejected, but only because the applicants were already registered to vote early.

ALIPAC President William Gheen is not convinced. “Democrats are trying to limit their losses on Election Day by cheating and encouraging illegal aliens to vote in the 2010 elections, which by the way is a felony!” he wrote on the group’s website.

That claim was picked up and legitimated by Fox & Friends, as Wonk Room pointed out today:

CARLSON: Just in time for the election, the Justice Department is sending election observers to the state. You ask why? Well, they say they are worried that there may be some sort of discrimination going on against Hispanic voters. But, William Gheen, said he knows exactly why they’re coming. Here’s what he says: [...] [Reads quote.] That’s quite an accusation coming from that particular group.

KILMEADE: So in his mind they’re sending out observers to turn their back, to allow people to vote in elections where they don’t belong in.

DOOCY: They’re looking for volunteers to do some patrolling, essentially recruiting them to block illegals from voting. See that’s the problem. They say “illegals should not be voting,” but it’s relatively easy in a number of states for illegals to vote. Particularly in Arizona. All you gotta do is show a water bill, a heat bill, you got a library card, a driver’s license, all stuff you can get if you are in this country illegally. So, that’s why they’re doing that and Hispanic groups are steamed.

There are several major problems with this. First off, it’s untrue: Arizona requires voters to have a government-issued ID, which illegal immigrants cannot receive in Arizona because they cannot be issued driver’s licenses.

But beyond that, the idea of widespread efforts by undocumented immigrants to vote could easily lead to voter intimidation. Ban Amnesty Now, an anti-illegal immigration group, sent out an email signed by Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio asking volunteers to man the polls to watch for illegal immigrants trying to vote. Arpaio said he did not give the group permission to send the email in his name and cut his ties to the group, of which he was previously co-chairman. In Texas, the King Street Patriots have been accused of hovering over voters, particularly minorities, while observing at the polls.

These groups are theoretically only trying to prevent illegal immigrants from voting, but progressive groups say they could keep Latinos and other minorities from voting. Latino voters could have a major impact on a number of races but have been targeted by ads that urge them not to vote.

America’s Voice, a pro-immigration reform group, has a Protect Our Vote initiative for Latinos and other minorities to report vote suppression efforts. The Department of Justice has also stepped in by announcing it will deploy more than 400 observers to 30 jurisdictions — including Maricopa County — on Tuesday.

Even after the election, claims of fraudulent voting by illegal immigrants could remain in play. Some conservative politicians have promised to push for laws at the state level to require proof of citizenship to register to vote, even though a similar law was struck down in Arizona last week.

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