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19 Foreigners Charged for Voting in 2016 Elections

Voters at a polling station in Cambridge, Mass.
Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A group of 18 non-citizens actually voted in the key swing state of North Carolina during the 2016 presidential election, according to a series of federal indictments unveiled Friday in Wilmington, North Carolina.

According to a press release from the office of U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon of the Eastern District of North Carolina (USAO-EDNC), the 18 foreigners from Mexico, Germany, Grenada, the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Panama, the Philippines, Italy, Japan, Poland, El Salvador, Haiti, and Korea, were charged with voting as an alien, with some additionally charged with illegally registering to do so. At least one is believed to also have voted in the 2012 presidential election, but the statute of limitations on that crime has passed.

According to the charging documents, most simply falsely claimed to be U.S. citizens and then voted at their local polling places. One of these, Diana Patricia Franco-Rodriguez, 26, a green card holder from Mexico, picked up an additional charge when she applied for citizenship in 2016. She had to swear on her application she had never claimed to be a U.S. citizen. In fact, according to the indictment, she had when she registered to vote in 2012.

Another man, Ramon Esteban Paez-Jerez, age 58, of the Dominican Republic, has already pleaded guilty to passport fraud and voting by an alien. Unlike the other defendants, Paez-Jerez was nominally a U.S. citizen. According the USAO-EDNC, he was ordered deported as an illegal alien in 1988, only to skip out on his deportation hearing, steal someone else’s identity, and apply for a green card a year later under that name. After ten years as a permanent legal resident, this fake identity was granted U.S. citizenship. Paez-Jerez voted and applied for a passport under these fraudulent pretenses. He faces eleven years in prison, significantly more than the defendants in the indictments above.

Finally, an American, Denslo Allen Paige, is charged with aiding and abetting one of the aliens in registering and voting under a false claim of citizenship. He faces five years in prison.

Left-wing groups have, for years, written that voter fraud is “a myth” and “not a problem” and that efforts to combat it are part of a broader conspiracy to suppress vulnerable voters. One of the most frequently targeted of these efforts was President Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The commission’s chairman, Kansas Secretary of State and Breitbart News contributor Kris Kobach, was often personally attacked as part of this supposed conspiracy.

Speaking to Breitbart News Friday, Kobach, who secured the Republican nomination for governor in Kansas after making voter fraud a top priority in his stint as secretary of state, pushed back on the left’s voter fraud narrative in light of the DOJ’s announcement. “Registering and voting by aliens is a massive problem that is getting bigger across the country. In Kansas we recently prosecuted two aliens for registering to vote,” he said. “These nineteen cases in North Carolina are just the tip of the iceberg, because the vast majority of cases are never discovered. Thousands of aliens will be on the voter rolls in an average state, and there is usually no effective way of identifying which specific voters are not U.S. citizens.”

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