April 13 2007, 2:12 PM
Illegal immigrants should not be allowed to vote, so it's a good thing that they apparently do not. Republicans in Colorado have been outspoken in recent years about concerns that illegal immigrants were voting in local elections. They have used those concerns to attempt to create new restrictions on voting, including a misguided requirement that you must prove that you are a U.S. citizen when you show up at the polls...even though most Americans don't carry around that sort of proof. During last summer's special session on illegal immigration, the issue came up in discussion and county clerks from around the state said that there was no evidence that illegal immigrants were really voting. Nevertheless, that hasn't deterred the likes of Republican Secretary of State Mike Coffman from continuing to promote the danger of illegal immigrants voting in Colorado. But as The New York Times reported this week, voter fraud just isn't happening. Anywhere.
Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews. Although Republican activists have repeatedly said fraud is so widespread that it has corrupted the political process and, possibly, cost the party election victories, about 120 people have been charged and 86 convicted as of last year. Most of those charged have been Democrats, voting records show. Many of those charged by the Justice Department appear to have mistakenly filled out registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, a review of court records and interviews with prosecutors and defense lawyers show. In Miami, an assistant United States attorney said many cases there involved what were apparently mistakes by immigrants, not fraud. In Wisconsin, where prosecutors have lost almost twice as many cases as they won, charges were brought against voters who filled out more than one registration form and felons seemingly unaware that they were barred from voting... ...Voter fraud is a highly polarized issue, with Republicans asserting frequent abuses and Democrats contending that the problem has been greatly exaggerated to promote voter identification laws that could inhibit the turnout by poor voters. The fraud rallying cry became a clamor in the Florida recount after the 2000 presidential election. Conservative watchdog groups, already concerned that the so-called Motor Voter Law in 1993 had so eased voter registration that it threatened the integrity of the election system, said thousands of fraudulent votes had been cast. Similar accusations of compromised elections were voiced by Republican lawmakers elsewhere.I've never understood this fear that illegal immigrants are voting, particularly because I don't see why illegal immigrants would want to vote. Why would someone who was here illegally want to risk being discovered just so they could vote? That's like robbing a bank and then going back to the same bank a few days later to open an account; who is going to take that chance? If someone is not bothered by the fact that they are in this country illegally, I doubt that they are terribly interested in taking part in an election. Hell, we can't even get people who really are citizens to vote on a regular basis. If illegal immigrants really were voting in Colorado, then I would be the first to say that it is a serious problem. But they aren't, so it's not.