(CNSNews.com) - Two congressional Democrats who oppose tougher voter ID and voter registration laws told CNSNews.com that such laws are not needed because, they claim, documented voter fraud by illegal aliens is nonexistent.
At a discussion panel on voter identification (ID) laws held at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 17, CNSNews.com asked Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.): “What should be done in regards to illegal immigrants voting?”
Lewis replied, “I don’t know of any. I don’t know of any case in any -- in Georgia, in Alabama, in North Carolina, Mississippi or any parts of America -- that some illegal person, some person who’s not a citizen had cast a vote and I just think that’s a lot of say-and-do about nothing. That’s not happening.”
Lewis also said voter ID laws, or proof of citizenship laws make it harder to restore voting rights to people that paid their debts to society.
“These laws are barriers to an all-inclusive democracy," Lewis said "They are a disgrace and a shame. We continue to step backward toward another dark time in our history.”
Following the same event, CNSNews.com also asked Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.) -- “In your opinion is there anything that should be done to prevent, say illegal immigrants from voting?”
Cleaver, as well, said there are no illegal aliens voting in the U.S.
“We don’t have any, we don’t have any problems of illegal immigrants voting in this country,” Cleaver told CNSNews.com. “And in the last 10 years we’ve had something like 13 cases of voter fraud in the 50 states of the United States of America.”
While tracking illegal immigrant voting is difficult, according to a report issued by the Commission on Federal Election Reform in 2005, the Justice Department has conducted more than 180 investigations into election fraud since October of 2002. Federal prosecutors have charged 89 individuals and convicted 52 for election-fraud offenses, including giving false voter-registration information.
The report also noted that in 2000, random checks by the Honolulu city clerk’s office found 200 registered voters who admitted they were not U.S. citizens. And in 2004, at least 35 foreign citizens applied for and received voter cards in Harris County, Texas, the report noted.
The bipartisan blue-ribbon commission, which was chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, recommended laws that require voters to show a photo ID before voting – aa recommendation that came before the federal REAL ID law was created.
Recent events also suggest at least the strong possibility of non-citizens voting.
In 2011, Colorado’s secretary of state found by comparing drivers’ licenses that Colorado had potentially as many as 16,270 non-citizens on its voting rolls.
In 2007, the Dallas Morning News ran a piece titled “Non-citizens likely voted in Bexar County” which explained how 330 non-citizens were discovered on voting rolls after they were summoned for jury duty.
The 2004 Washington State gubernatorial election was decided by 133 votes while 1,678 illegal votes, mostly by felons, were cast. The election was upheld because there was no accurate way to determine which candidate was the recipient of the illegal votes.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, currently 31 states require some form of identification to vote, with eight having strict photo ID requirements. Another 29 states have no ID requirement to vote.
Court cases will likely continue over voter ID laws, which opponents like Lewis and Cleaver argue are often unconstitutional.
In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board upheld Indiana’s voter ID law which requires government issued photo ID. To be constitutional, voter ID laws have to follow the 24th amendment, which prohibits a poll tax.
Reps. Lewis and Cleaver were joined by Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas), in a voting rights panel that also included the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the American Civil Liberties Union, the William Kellibrew Foundation, the Advancement Project, the American Association of People with Disabilities, and the George Soros-funded Brennan Center for Justice.