10 charged for voter fraud
All legal residents but not citizens
Michael Kiefer and Elvia Diaz
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 12, 2005 12:00 AM
Ten Valley residents who are not U.S. citizens were charged Thursday with fraudulently registering to vote in Maricopa County.
They admitted they were not citizens on jury duty affidavits, but county officials discovered they were still registered to vote, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas said.
The 10 are among 159 people the County Attorney's Office is investigating for voter fraud. Out of the 10, one is German, one is from Tonga and the rest are Hispanic with seven from Mexico and the last from an unspecified country, according to the affidavits. Four actually voted in recent elections and another tried to vote, but his ballot was rejected, Thomas said. All are legal residents of the United States.
"The voters of Arizona spoke to this issue by passing Proposition 200 in 2004, which requires proof of citizenship in order to vote," Thomas said. "And it is our hope that this new requirement, once enacted, will help prevent cases such as this we are prosecuting today."
All 10 are charged with presentment of a false instrument, a felony with a presumptive sentence of one year in prison, but people convicted of such lower-level felonies often receive probation. The other 149 cases are still under investigation, and Thomas said that he expected more indictments.
Proposition 200 was passed in 2004 and requires Arizonans to produce proof of citizenship when registering to vote and to show identification when casting a ballot in person. Thomas said the indictments were proof that the concerns that spawned the controversial voter initiative are more than theoretical.
Margarito Blancas, 30, of Phoenix, one of the 10 indicted, said his registration "was a mistake on my part."
In 1992, when he registered for the Selective Service, he was offered a voter-registration form, he said.
"I thought you were eligible to do that at the same time," he explained.
And Carlos Magallanes, 56, of Mesa, said that he registered to vote at the request of an acquaintance he didn't identify, and that he had no idea he had to be a U.S. citizen to do it.
"There is nothing I can do about it now," said Magallanes, a construction worker. "An American told me to register to vote. I didn't know I shouldn't vote."
Reactions from public
Thomas denied he was trying to send a message with the indictments, but reaction to them was polarized.
Randy Pullen, a key proponent of Proposition 200, said the criminal charges filed against the non-citizens prove he and others were right in pursuing the law.
"We always believed voter fraud happens on a regular basis. It's just that nobody attempted to deal with it," Pullen said. "I'm sure there will be examples of illegal aliens registering to vote and voting. This is just the beginning."
But some Latino leaders reacted angrily, saying Thomas is singling out Hispanics.
Alfredo Gutierrez, a former state lawmaker and main critic of Proposition 200, called the indictments "racially motivated." While admitting that non-citizens shouldn't be registering to vote, he felt Thomas is trying to come up with examples of voter fraud to justify Proposition 200.
"Are there 10 people inappropriately registered to vote? I'm sure there are," Gutierrez said. "There have been cases of inappropriate voting registration from time to time."
About 700,000 people are sent summonses to appear for jury duty in Maricopa County each year. Their names and addresses are obtained from voter registration and Motor Vehicle Division lists.
By law, jurors must be U.S. citizens, and they cannot be felons. When contacted for jury service, they are asked to check off boxes on an affidavit certifying they meet those requirements.
Staffers in the jury office separate the affidavits checked by felons who have not had their civil rights restored and those checked by non-citizens, and the county Elections Department checks their names against the voter rolls and deletes ineligible voters, said Bob James, director of jury management for courts in Maricopa County.
"When we would find those that aren't citizens, we turn them over to the county attorney," said Karen Osborne, director of elections for the county.
Osborne also said that since some voting provisions of Proposition 200 went into effect in January, 7,181 out of 16,391 people who registered to vote in Maricopa County were rejected for lack of proof of citizenship.
Repeat as necessary. Criminal non-citizens should be deported.....
Gotta love it. Apparently now Nappy is all about declaring our border with Mexico a disaster area after doing her level best to kill every provision of Prop. 200.
Garsh I wonder if the $1.5 million dollars in Federal funds was any kind of motivation.
Funny how you are a racist because you want laws enforced that happen to affect a certain part of the population in larger numbers.
I'll be honest with y'all. I considered registering to vote too, even though I am not a citizen either.
I didnt do it though, I played it fair and worked the phones for Bush's campaign instead and still feel as though I helped elect him.
They are all legal residents.
But none of them are Citizens.
Indeed it is a big difference. As it turns out it is a HUGE DIFFERENCE.