Noncitizen Voting is (Already) Illegal in Pennsylvania

Only citizens are allowed to vote in Pennsylvania elections, but that hasn’t stopped Republicans from pushing unsubstantiated claims about noncitizen voting.

What’s Happening?

Anti-immigrant conspiracy theorists are spreading disinformation about noncitizen voting to breed fear, stoke racism, and spread hate ahead of the 2024 election. Sadly, this is nothing new. This hateful narrative rears its ugly head before every election cycle as a way to further a xenophobic agenda and intimidate voters of color.

There is absolutely no evidence of widespread non-citizen voting. State election officials have existing systems to verify an individual’s eligibility and ensure accurate voter rolls.

How does this impact Pennsylvania?

Republican State Senator Cris Dush has cited noncitizen voting as a reason for widespread voter roll purges. Voter roll purges are an often-flawed process of cleaning up voter rolls by deleting names from registration lists. While removing the names of voters who die or move is important, voter roll purges are increasingly weaponized as a tool of voter suppression. 

Here are the facts about noncitizen voting:

  1. Voter fraud is extraordinarily rare. Most reported incidents are traceable to other sources, such as clerical errors or bad data-matching practices. The Brennan Center found incident rates between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent. It is more likely that an American will be struck by lightning than impersonate another voter at the polls.

    Noncitizen voting is also extremely rare.
    Over two decades, fewer than .00001% of votes cast were cast by noncitizens nationwide.
  2. Noncitizen voting is already illegal in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Constitution only extends voting rights to citizens. Since 1996, federal law has explicitly prohibited noncitizen voting in federal elections.
  3. Pennsylvania has a rigorous process for verifying a voter’s eligibility. Counties take many steps to ensure each voter is eligible to vote before approving a voter registration application. From verifying resident and citizenship status to regularly maintaining voter rolls, counties have multiple means to verify a voter’s eligibility.
    Automatic voter registration through the Department of Transportation prohibits noncitizens from registering to vote. Automatic voter registration  significantly increased voter registration across the political spectrum when it was implemented in 2023, but all voter registrations through the Department of Transportation’s automatic voter registration system must be accompanied by evidence of a voter’s age, residency, and citizenship. If that evidence is not included, the system will not  allow the individual to register to vote.
  4. Any bill to “prohibit” noncitizen voting is about politics, not policy. When lawmakers advance frivolous bills to advance anti-immigration narratives, they not only take resources away from issues that need to be considered – like expanding voter access and protecting voting rights – they perpetuate myths and stoke discrimination against immigrants.   

Bills combating ‘noncitizen voting’ are not rooted in reality; they are only intended to stoke anti-immigrant fear and hatred. Antics like this have no place in our halls of power. 

Common Cause is working to build a thriving, inclusive democracy by sharing facts and dismantling disinformation. 

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