A Peruvian woman who voted illegally in two U.S. elections in 2006 can be deported as a result, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, despite her claim that she registered to vote only after a motor vehicle department clerk said she was free to do so.
The case involving Margarita Del Pilar Fitzpatrick, a legal permanent resident who arrived in the United States in 2002 and has three naturalized children, comes amid a debate over President Donald Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud, including millions of ballots from illegal immigrants.
The president and his allies have not provided any evidence to back those assertions, and elections officials and academics who study voting have said voter fraud is virtually nonexistent in the United States.
Fitzpatrick, who is married to a U.S. citizen, applied for an Illinois driver’s license over a decade ago, according to court papers. Like many states, Illinois allows individuals to register to vote when applying for a license under a “motor-voter” law.
She showed a desk clerk her Peruvian passport and U.S. green card when filling out the paperwork, her attorney said. The clerk asked her whether she wanted to register to vote and told her, “It’s up to you,” according to court papers.
Fitzpatrick’s lawyer, Richard Hanus, told the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago that his client therefore had “official approval” and should not be held responsible for an innocent mistake.
A three-judge panel wrote on Monday that Fitzpatrick had checked a box affirming she was a U.S. citizen and that the clerk’s response was not an authorization.
Barring a successful appeal, the Department of Homeland Security can proceed to deport Fitzpatrick.
Hanus, who said he was considering further appeals, called the result a “miscarriage of justice” and noted that Fitzpatrick had disclosed the votes herself when seeking U.S. citizenship.
An immigration lawyer, Hanus said he has seen dozens, perhaps hundreds, of cases over the years in which an immigrant voted without realizing it was illegal.
“There’s no fraud,” he said. “It arises out of confusion.”
On Saturday, the New York Times published a widely read account of a Texas woman sentenced to eight years in prison for voting illegally, despite her lawyer’s claim that she did not intend to break the law.
So, voter “fraud” is “virtually nonexistent,” but one immigration lawyer has seen “dozens, perhaps hundreds” of cases in which an illegal alien voted ignorantly. So, it appears our leftist opponents are playing a little word game. All of those illegal voters are voting ignorantly, so that doesn’t constitute fraud. And since voting illegally doesn’t constitute fraud if done ignorantly, voter fraud is “virtually nonexistent.” If voter fraud is virtually nonexistent, then we’re wasting our time complaining about fraud.
If but one immigration lawyer from Illinois admits to having seen “dozens, perhaps hundreds” of cases of ignorant illegal voting, what would that figure be in, say, California, New Mexico, Arizona or Texas? Some states are already pursuing proof-of-citizenship options in order to prevent illegal voting. Predictably, such commonsense measures are opposed by Democrats. After all, it’s not fraud if you’re ignorant, and ignorance, to Democrats, is bliss.