“Could control of the Senate in 2014 be decided by illegal votes cast by non-citizens?” That is the question posed by political scientists Jesse Richman and David Earnest, who answer in a forthcoming article in the journal Electoral Studies: “Most non-citizens do not register, let alone vote. But enough do that their participation can change the outcome of close races.” And, the researchers note, 80% of non-citizen votes go to Democrats.
The estimated percentage of non-citizens voting is small, especially in midterms: “Our best guess, based upon extrapolations from the portion of the sample with a verified vote, is that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010,” Richman and Earnest wrote in the Washington Post. Yet that small percentage “was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections.”
They single out the close election for U.S. Senate in Minnesota in 2008, in which a victory for incumbent Republican Norm Coleman was reversed in a controversial recount that gave the win to comedian Al Franken. Non-citizen votes, they say, could quite easily have been the reason for Franken’s win–and therefore were the reason Democrats could count on a “60th vote” for Obamacare, which passed the Senate in late 2009:
Non-citizen votes could have given Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health-care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) won election in 2008 with a victory margin of 312 votes.
Richman and Earnest add that voter ID is “strikingly ineffective” in deterring non-citizens from voting: many non-citizens vote anyway. They recommend instead improving public education about the simple fact that non-citizens are barred from voting. Alternatively, they suggest, non-citizens could be allowed to vote in U.S. elections, as long-term residents are in some other nations (and as they once were in the U.S., as well).
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak