Do Illegal Immigrants Vote In U.S. Elections?

I hear all the time about how the illegals are voting in our elections:

But I have a terribly hard time finding reputable (nonpartisan) sources documenting this type of voter fraud. Can anyone find any numbers on how many illegal immigrants actually vote/try to vote in elections every year?

I’m more interested in federal elections, but state and local numbers would be nice too.


There have been accusations of illegal voting in US elections, but there have been fewer than a dozen solid cases of them in the past decade. After the 2000 election, Republican DAs were especially diligent in looking to prosecute anyone voting illegally, but could never find more than a handful of cases.

As a general rule, voter fraud is less than most think. I’ve seen several studies which show in most US elections there will be an error rate of .5% to 2% depending on various factors. That includes all errors; intentional fraud, honest mistakes in counting, or Florida being, well, Florida. The single biggest factor isn’t fraud, it’s the voting method. Butterfly ballots vs optical vs paper ballots and so on. If you’re interested in statistics, you might find this PDF on Using Recounts to Measure the Accuracy of Vote Tabulations interesting in seeing what the rates of errors in US elections are.
So while I don’t know specifically about illegal immigrants voting, it’d only really matter in elections so close that it’d be hard to definitely declare a winner just due to normal human error. We had one election that close in 2000, and MN famously had another recently, but it’s actually somewhat rare things are that close.

If not now, they and their progeny eventually will. Lockstep for Democrats. That is why liberals favor their “rights” at the expense of actual citizens’ and are doing everything they can to shelter them and promote their interests.

I don’t know about illegals but I know darn well legal immigrants vote.

I can name you three immigrants that voted. When I told them they aren’t supposed to, they were like “Really, I thought as long as I was here legal I was entitled.” So obviously they aren’t checking when you register.

I will say the immigrants were in this country legally and it wasn’t intentional. They really believed they were entitled to vote. This was Illinois

How about we make them actual citizens? Then they won’t be illegal immigrants and they’ll be able to live in the country they love and it will be our patriotic duty to shelter them and everyone will be happy!

boilercake. This is General Questions. If you have factual information to add, do so. If you have an opinion, then stifle yourself.

This isn’t a warning, but political snipe doesn’t belong in General Questions.

samclem, Moderator, GQ

Sorry about responding to boilercake; I lost track of the forum.

I’d just like to point out that over 99% of the population of the US is the progeny of immigrants, and obviously not all of them vote for any single political party.

reputedly even dead people sometimes vote. That’s much cooler than that.

When I lived in Miami (student, later post-graduation-one-year-work-visa), I got letters reminding me to register to vote several times. Female, single and thereabouts of 30, I fit the Dem demographic… apparently they didn’t think of checking whether I was a citizen/national, either. The first time I bothered call them up and point out their mistake; when it happened again, I just rolled my eyes and ditched the letter.

In other places it is legal to vote without being a citizen, which helps confuse things.

Excuse an ignorant question from a non-USonian; don’t you have to establish your nationality in order to register to vote?

And, if not, why not?

Private organizations can hold voter registration drives, not just government entities, so the screening for legal status is not required if the group doesn’t feel that would help. The group holding the drive cannot promote a party or candidate, but they can target certain segments of society that predominantly lean toward one party or the other. Address seems to be more important than Nationality and immigration status.

But surely a “voter registration drive” is a campaign to encourage and perhaps assist people in registering with whoever maintains the voters’ register who is, presumably, a government officer of some kind? Doesn’t a government officer or agency ultimately have to take responsibility for registering you as a voter, and doesn’t that involve him taking a decision that you are, in fact, entitled to be registered as a voter? Surely he is not obliged to register you simply because a private organisation tells him to register you?

Government may take responsibility for vetting applications, but in reality, I seriously doubt it is done with great vigor and intensity, if much at all.

In my office, we’ve had issues with clients who went to the Secretary of State’s office to get a driver’s license (we have Motor Voter in Illinois) and without realizing it, the SS employee registered them to vote. It’s just a check box on the form - I can totally see how someone in a hurry trying to renew a license at lunch hour wouldn’t pay close attention and sign the form. Those people usually didn’t vote, though.

Heck, my mom is a Cook Coujnty deputy registrar, and I had to remind her when she was trying to register everyone in her condo building that there was a good reason that the nice Indian couple upstairs on H-1Bs told her thanks, but no thanks. Good thing, too - false attestations of U.S. citizenship cause all sorts of immigration problems later.

So in short, there’s no requirement, at least in Cook County, to prove that you are a U.S. citizen - you are just attesting to it on the registration application. Here’s some more info, and a link to the application form.

Eva Luna, Immigration Paralegal

Well, there’s your problem right there. If the government doesn’t take citizenship requirements seriously, how can we expect prospective voters to?

On a slightly wider note, isn’t there a problem when the efforts of voluntary groups and private organisations can make a significant impact on the electoral register? I’m not saying that voter registration drives shouldn’t be undertaken; I’m saying they shouldn’t be necessary. If we take the health of the republic at all seriously, won’t we see that an important function of government is to ensure that the “republican infrastructure”, so to speak, is in place? And that means well-organised, effective, arrangements to ensure free and fair elections which reliably reflect the will of the people. If the government is that slapdash about the electoral register, it doesn’t inspire much confidence in the rest of the electoral process.

The problem is the federal nature of election law in the United States. You have different laws, unevenly applied.

For instance, in some states if you are convicted of a felony, you permanently lose your right to vote (though it can be restored). In other states, felons regain their right to vote after they’ve served their sentence, while in a couple of states (Vermont, maybe?) you can vote from prison.

Some states require photo identification when voting, others don’t. My state doesn’t require photo ID and allows same-day registration. Our neighbors in North Dakota require photo ID, but don’t have any electoral register. You show up, swear you live in the precinct, show your driver’s license, and vote.

Because of a federal law (HAVA), state electoral registers are compared against various state and national databases, including Social Security, driver’s license, and corrections, and every presidential election year there are a couple of dozen prosecutions for individual violations in my county, which seems pretty good for an electorate of more than 300,000.

Other states seem to have a more slapdash attitude, either in not checking eligibility, or in being overly quick to purge the voting rolls.

Somewhat related story to the OP’s question – there has been a move in San Francisco to let “non-citizen immigrants” vote in School Board Elections.

New try to let non-citizens vote

I think there was a similar measure being considered the central valley somewhere.

I guess I’m misunderstanding your comments, since I’m an election judge in Illinois. Some legal immigrants (and others who are unable to vote) may TRY to vote, but the election judges should reject them. So they’re not actually voting unless they are legally registered.

If there’s any doubt that can’t be resolved immediately at the polling place (or with phone call or computer link to HQ), they may be allowed to cast “provisional” ballots – ballots that are held separately until the individual’s situation can be investigated by legal authorities.

Two election judges check the signature against the record, and can ask for photo ID if there’s any doubt.