Two immigrants who are not citizens -- and thus not eligible to vote -- have accused a Nevada Culinary Union of registering them to vote and then threatening them with deportation if they did not go to the polls. Even worse, the immigrants say there are more like them who are illicitly registered and may be casting ballots in one of the most critical swing states in the 2012 election due to Nevada's lax voter identification laws that do not require voters to provide photo IDs or prove citizenship.
Glenn Cook, of the Las Vegas Review Journal, met with two immigrants who said Culinary Local 226 signed them up to vote. The immigrants told Cook "the Culinary official who registered them to vote didn't tell them what they were signing and didn't ask whether they were citizens" and "they trusted that the union official's request was routine, thought nothing of it and went about their work."
Once registered, these immigrants can vote because of Nevada's rather lax identification requirements.
As Cook notes:
In Nevada you never have to prove you're a citizen to register to vote or cast a ballot. Forget about showing government-issued photo identification at the polls, as several states now require. You don't have to show a photo ID at any point in the process. The immigrants I met could vote Tuesday just by showing a Culinary health insurance card and a power bill.
Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax told Cook all voters would need are documents proving identity and residence.
"Just like every other voter in Nevada, they will not be asked to prove citizenship," Lomax said.
Cook notes the Union officials visited one immigrant and made threats of deportation and said the immigration was in "so much trouble" for not having voted.
Cook "verified their identities, their lack of citizenship and their status as active registered voters in Clark County," and the immigrants told Cook there were more like them.
Cook then spoke with Yvanna Cancela, political director for the Culinary Local 226, who told him the Union would never "train anyone to register non-citizens or threaten registered voters in any way." She surmised that the canvasser who said the immigrant was "in so much trouble" actually was "pointing out that it was wrong the immigrant had been registered to vote in the first place and that the immigrant needed to be taken off the registration rolls."
But, as Cook notes, even though one of the immigrants had filled out the paper work to be removed from the voter rolls, as of Friday, the immigrant's form was not among the registration cancellation forms the Clark County election office have received during the last month.
Cook notes that in Nevada, more identification is required for cashing a check than voting, and that needs to change to prevent such non-citizens from potentially tampering with close elections.
"We should ask every voter, upon registration, to prove citizenship, but we don't," Cook writes. "Instead, we have an honor system that's exceedingly easy to cheat and gives political parties and politically active groups a powerful incentive to break the law without much risk of being caught."