At least 86 non-citizens have been registered voters in Philadelphia since 2013, and almost half — 40 — even voted in at least one recent election, according to a legal group that sued to get voter registration records.
Joseph Vanderhulst, an attorney with the Public Interest Legal Foundation, noted Philadelphia knows about those 86 illegal voters only because officials received specific requests — in almost every case from the voters themselves — to remove the names from the rolls. He said there is no way to know how many non-citizens might be registered to vote in Philadelphia, let alone in the rest of politically crucial Pennsylvania.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “Who knows how many are on and don’t ask to be taken off?”
Research by the law firm also indicated that Philadelphia makes no effort to proactively remove non-citizens or incarcerated felons, who also are ineligible to vote under Pennsylvania law. Philadelphia becomes the latest jurisdiction that the Public Interest Legal Foundation has revealed to have irregularities in the voter rolls. The group recently found 1,046 non-citizens who had been registered to vote in eight Virginia counties and that nearly 200 cast ballots between 2005 and 2015.
Asked how ineligible voters could be registered in Philadelphia, a city elections official, who did not identify himself, said, “I have no idea what they’re talking about. No, there aren’t,” before abruptly hanging up the phone.
Vanderhulst said the legal foundation encountered indifference and outright hostility when lawyers began seeking information. The group made a request under the Help America Vote Act in January. After the city ignored the request, the firm sued. The information that the city ultimately provided shows that:
- The city canceled 23 registered voters in 2015. Of that group, seven voted in past elections, and three had been registered for more than a decade.
- The city canceled 30 registered voters in 2014. Of that group, 18 had voted in past elections, and eight had been registered for at least a decade.
- The city canceled 33 registered voters in 2013. Of that group, 15 had voted in past elections, and six had been registered for at least a decade.