Metcalfe's Efforts Pays Off - Wolf Administration Admits 11,000 Non-citizens Registered to Vote
Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration turned the numbers over to the state legislature earlier this month, after ceding a long battle to block the information’s release.
The 11,198 names the state found are less than an earlier estimate of 100,000 names, though they still represent a sizable chunk of people who could have cast illegal ballots in elections, and gone without detection.
“I believe that we need to take action and have those people removed immediately from the rolls. They were never eligible to vote,” said state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican who fought a legal battle to force the Wolf administration to reveal the numbers.
Noncitizen voting has been a controversial issue for years, with voting-rights activists insisting it’s a minimal problem and President Trump suggesting the numbers are massive.
Many states and local officials have resisted attempts to get to the bottom of the numbers, though some are beginning to take action.
Texas officials last week said they uncovered nearly 100,000 names on their rolls of non-citizens illegally registered to vote, and state prosecutors have brought cases against some people who registered and cast ballots despite being ineligible.
In Pennsylvania, the problem of non-citizen voters became clear after officials admitted that a problem with computers in the state’s motor vehicle bureaus allowed ineligible voters to register anyway. Under the 1993 Motor-voter law, states are required to let people register at public offices.
At that time a Philadelphia commissioner had estimated some 100,000 names could be involved in the DMV snafu.
A voter integrity group, the Public Interest Legal Foundation, and Mr. Metcalfe each launched efforts to try to get to the bottom of the problem.
The PILF sued in both federal and state court, and is still battling those cases.
Mr. Metcalfe, meanwhile, made a Right-to-Know request under state law, and had his request granted. But the Wolf administration appealed, and the state Commonwealth Court scheduled a hearing for last month — after the November elections.
Just a week before the court hearing, the Wolf administration withdrew its appeal and announced it would turn over the information.
Mr. Metcalfe said that timing was suspicious.
This governor has been an obstructionist in revealing this information to the citizens, and thereby I believe a participant in allowing this fraudulent activity to occur because it benefits him and his party,” the lawmaker said.
Pennsylvania’s Department of State, which oversees voter registration, didn’t have an immediate comment Wednesday.
Logan Churchwell, who works at the PILF, the organization fighting for more disclosure, said they sympathized with Mr. Metcalfe’s complaints about battling for the information.
“The commonwealth is throttling transparency at the expense of voters’ faith in the election system,” he said. “This development underscores the continued need for our litigation. How did [the Department of State] arrive at the 11,000-plus, and how many more will come later?”
Mr. Metcalfe said the data the state turned over didn’t include names, so it’s impossible to find out how many of them cast ballots.
But a PILF study of more than 5,500 people removed from the Virginia rolls for being non-citizens found more than 1,800 of them had cast ballots at some point.