A federal grand jury in North Carolina charged 19 foreigners Friday with voting illegally in the 2016 election.
Another foreigner faces charges of aiding and abetting a co-defendant in falsely claiming U.S. citizenship to vote.
Logan Churchwell, a spokesman for the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), told LifeZette that he hopes the case is a sign that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is stepping up efforts to safeguard voter integrity.
“If this is the beginning of more to come, we might actually have a real deterrent against noncitizen voting — even if we don’t reform the system,” he said.
A federal grand jury in Wilmington, North Carolina, charged the following with making false citizenship claims and voting:
- Jose Cruz Solano-Rodriguez, 41, of Mexico
- Guadalupe Espinosa-Pena, 63, of Mexico
- Sarah Emilia Silverio-Polanco, 35, of the Dominican Republic
- Elizabeth Nene Amachaghi, 44, of Nigeria
- Maria Rufina Castillo-Boswell, 31, of the Philippines
- Dora Maybe Damatta-Rodriguez, 64, of Panama
- Elvis David Fullerton, 54, of Grenada
- Olive Agatha Martin, 71, of Guyana
- Kaoru Sauls, 54, of Japan
The grand jury also charged the following separately with voting by an alien:
- Jose Jaime Ramiro-Torres, 52, of El Salvador
- Juan Francisco Landeros-Mireles, 64, of Mexico
- Alessandro Cannizzaro, 46, of Italy
- Dieudonne Soifils, 71, of Haiti
- Hyo Suk George, 69, of South Korea
- Merius Jean, 54, of Haiti
- Rosemarie Angelika Harris, 60, of Germany
- Daniel Tadeusz Romanowski, 39, of Poland
- Diana Patricia Franco-Rodriguez, 26, of Mexico, who also faces charges of fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents
- Ramon Esteban Paez-Jerez, age 58, of the Dominican Republic, who pleaded guilty to that and passport fraud
Authorities charged AuDenslo Allen Paige, 66, with aiding and abetting Espinosa-Pena in falsely claiming United States citizenship in order to register to vote.
The charges come 16 months after the North Carolina State Board of Elections reported that 508 noncitizens had cast ballots in the 2016 election. Registered Democrats made up 54 percent of the total, or 326 voters. Republicans accounted for 15 percent, or 91 voters. Independents and voters belonging to minor parties made up the rest.
In addition, according to the report, 24 people cast more than one ballot.
Churchwell said the foreigners indicted on Friday do not appear to be any different from the hundreds of noncitizen voters that PILF has uncovered in several states over the past few years. Legal permanent residents repeatedly manage to register to vote, with some actually casting ballots.
PILF amassed records by asking election boards for all of the correspondents they have received from voters asking to be taken off the rolls because they are not citizens. PILF has said it has no way of knowing how many ineligible voters have not come forward voluntarily and remain on voters rolls.
“This is what real foreign influence in elections looks like,” Churchwell said.
He added that state officials often encourage illegal voting by how they apply the National Voter Registration Act, which allows people to register to vote at driver’s license offices and other government buildings.
“These are people who have not only gotten registered, but a lot are invited through the motor voter program,” he said.
Churchwell said some of the illegal voting appears to have been uncovered by an investigation into identity theft. He said voter registration cards can be used to get passports and other legal documents. They also can be used as identification to get past border checkpoints, he added.
“We need to come to facts about how our voter registration system is essentially becoming a document mill,” he said.