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Illegal aliens who soon will be able to obtain legal driver’s licenses in California may also be able to vote in federal elections under terms of a new law set to take effect in January, analysts say.
Under the requirements of the “Help America Vote Act,” passed in the wake of the 2000 presidential election recount debacle, states are now required to implement new standardized voting regulations, which include verifying voter identity, according to an analysis of the law by Public Citizen, a national non-partisan consumer-advocacy group.
One way the new law allows voters to be identified is via a driver’s license, according to a Federal Election Commission summary of the law. If illegal aliens legally possess one, analysts speculate, they could also be allowed to cast ballots in U.S. elections.
For the first time, the law – which was signed by President Bush Oct. 29 – creates national voting and election standards “for the administration of all federal, state and local elections,” the group said. Included in those standards are identification procedures.
One, dubbed a “ballot security measure,” says all who register to vote “must provide a valid driver’s license or … the last four digits of your Social Security number,” Public Citizen said in its analysis.
“In many ways, the new law marks a significant step forward in improving the conduct of elections in the United States,” Public Citizen said. “At the same time, however, the compromise sacrificed some additional steps that should have been taken to ensure that every vote counts and contains some of the ballot-security measures that are not useful to the democratic process.”
As WorldNetDaily reported, California recently passed legislation allowing illegal aliens to obtain driver’s licenses. Also, though they don’t specifically permit it, 15 other states’ licensing laws contain enough loopholes non-citizens can also obtain driver’s licenses there, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group advocating tighter immigration restrictions.
“This may be an unintended consequence of the law,” said Karen England of the Capitol Resources Institute, a conservative public-policy think tank in Sacramento.
One official with the FEC said “some safeguards” were in place to prevent illegals from voting in U.S. elections. But she admitted they may not be foolproof.
The Office of Elections Administration official, who asked not to be named, told WorldNetDaily her agency was examining the implications California law would have on elections, but that research wasn’t yet complete.
“There’s a way to alert people who are not citizens not to register to vote,” the official said. “So there are some safeguards. Whether it’s 100 percent accurate, I have no idea.”
Immigrant-rights groups support licensing illegal aliens.
“We agree there is a serious immigration problem in this country. We’ve got a situation where our immigration laws really don’t work,” says Michele Waslin, senior immigration policy analyst at the National Council of La Raza. But, she added, “we believe everybody who drives a car should have a driver’s license. It’s better for all of us if all drivers are properly licensed and insured. It makes us all safer.”
Opponents of the California law, which takes effect Jan. 1, are mounting a challenge to it. The Imperial Valley Press reports U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., is lending assistance to a statewide referendum to overturn the law.
Supporters of the proposition must get 366,000 signatures certified before the first of the year to delay implementation of the law until the November election.
The paper cited a field poll reported by the San Jose Mercury News stating 59 percent of Californians oppose licensing illegals, compared with 34 percent who support it.
Other states are considering allowing illegals to obtain driver’s licenses, following Democrat Gov. Gray Davis’ signing of California’s legislation Sept. 5.
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, also a Democrat, said earlier this month she too would sign a similar bill if one reached her desk, a position that put her at odds with leading Republicans in the state.