Politics

Pennsylvania Governor Candidate Vows to Purge Illegal Voters

Republican Scott Wagner says he would order state officials to audit the rolls and remove unqualified individuals to aid honest elections

A Republican gubernatorial candidate has promised to crack down on noncitizen voting in the Keystone State, a pledge he indicated was even more important in light of Tuesday’s photo finish in a special election for a congressional seat near Pittsburgh.

Scott Wagner, a businessman and state senator from York County, vowed to order the Pennsylvania Department of State to audit its voter registration records and immediately remove any noncitizens from the rolls.

“As governor, my commitment to the integrity of our elections will be crystal clear,” he said in a statement. “What we are seeing in the 18th District shows that every vote matters, and furthers the argument for getting a firmer grip on who we have voting in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

In that race, Democrat Conor Lamb apparently defeated Republican Rick Saccone by 627 votes out of 228,378 cast, but absentee ballots remain to be counted and GOP officials may seek a recount.

Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt has been warning for several years that legal permanent residents — who are eligible for driver’s licenses — have been registering to vote under the same procedures used by citizens under the federal Motor Voter Act adopted in 1993.

In addition, the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) last month sued the Pennsylvania Department of State in an attempt to force the release of voter registration records. Officials from the voting integrity organization said the records are necessary to determine the true extent of the problem. The suit listed several examples of noncitizens who had been registered and cast ballots before state officials removed them from the registration list — usually at their own request.

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Schmidt testified before a state legislative committee last year that as many as 100,000 registered voters had green cards when they obtained driver’s licenses. He stressed that not all of those green card holders are illegal voters; some may have obtained a license as a lawful permanent resident and then registered to vote after becoming citizens.

State officials have disputed the 100,000 estimate but have not said how many noncitizens might be registered in Pennsylvania.

Related: Noncitizen Voters in Pennsylvania Not a ‘Glitch,’ Philly Official Says

Wagner argued that the state needs to find out the answer to that question. He faulted Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf for not moving more aggressively to root out invalid voters.

“While I believe the reports of noncitizen voting are of the utmost concern and should be addressed immediately by the Department of State, their recent handling of the situation does not suggest that will happen,” he said in the statement. “While Governor Wolf may be content to continue to let fraud occur in our elections, I will not be.”

Wagner won his Senate seat in a 2014 special election as a write-in after the York County Republican Party nominated another candidate.

PoliZette senior writer Brendan Kirby can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

(photo credit, homepage and article image: Scott Wagner)

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