Kentucky House Bill 214 authorizing online voter registration is trifling; it does nothing to fix the major flaw in the registration process: no verification of a registrant's U.S. citizenship.
Our government's focus should be on ensuring only citizens are registered to vote. Under current law it's frighteningly easy for non-citizens to illegally register to vote.
The Kentucky voter registration form merely requires a registrant to check a box declaring they are a citizen, but no proof is required.
After the registration form is forwarded by the secretary of state to the county clerk's office in the county where the registrant resides, the county clerk merely runs the Social Security number through a statewide database of registered voters.
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Unless the Social Security number given by the registrant matches the number of someone already registered, the county clerk accepts the registration. But it could be a fake number (or even a valid 9 digit federal tax identification number obtained by an illegal alien), but as long as the number is not associated with an already registered voter the registration must be accepted.
To add to the absurdity, once an illegal voter registers, there is no process to ever detect them. Neither the federal nor state government undertakes any effort to verify citizenship of registered voters.
Critics of a requirement that registrants prove citizenship claim there is no evidence of non-citizen registration or voting. But a recent study by two professors at Old Dominion University concluded that in both 2008 and 2010 more than 14 percent of non-citizens were registered to vote, and that 6.4 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2010, respectively.
Here in Kentucky, Americans First recently conducted an investigation to find out whether any non-citizens are illegally registered to vote. We obtained from the Kentucky Department of Motor Vehicles a list of persons in Fayette and Jefferson counties who applied for a driver's license during the last three years using Non-Citizen Form TC-94-152, which we then compared against registered voters on the secretary of state's voter registration website.
That cross-check found dozens of people who applied for a Kentucky driver's license using the non-citizen application and who are also registered to vote in Kentucky.
While it is possible that some or even all of these people might have become citizens since they applied for a license, at a minimum our findings raise a legitimate question of whether they are illegally registered to vote.
We have referred our findings to both the secretary of state and the Special Prosecutions Division of the Attorney General's Office for further action.
Will our officials protect the integrity of Kentucky elections by determining if any of these people are illegally registered to vote?
What would a statewide investigation find? Why aren't Kentucky officials taking steps to find out?
Several other states, including Florida, are using the federal SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements) database to verify citizenship of registered voters who obtained a driver's license with a non-citizen application. That database allows for citizenship verification of people registering to vote as well as those already registered. Why aren't Kentucky officials doing this?
Instead of allowing online registration, why aren't our federal and state elected officials focused on protecting the integrity of our elections with laws requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote?
Until proof of citizenship for voter registration is mandated our citizens can have no confidence in the validity of our elections.
Dan M. Rose and Ron Vissing are leaders in Americans First Inc. in Lexington.