Schmidt: Time to crack down on non-citizens voting

Political updates around the area, including NFL players kneeling and non-citizens registering to vote.

Schmidt

City elections commissioner Al Schmidt is applauding the Pennsylvania Department of State’s commitment to addressing the flaw in the system that allows non-citizens to register to vote when receiving their driver’s licenses.

While these changes, once implemented, will help correct the problem moving forward, he said, they do nothing to address the issue of non-citizens already registered to vote.

Some non-citizens have self-reported their ineligibility, but Schmidt said it is likely that many thousands remain registered to vote in Pennsylvania.

“It’s critically important that the PA Department of State inform these non-citizens so that they may cancel their voter registration status prior to the next election and not further jeopardize their path to citizenship,” he said.

Schmidt’s office has identified 220 non-U.S. citizens who were registered to vote in Philadelphia at some point between 2006 and 2017.

Of the 220 non-U.S. citizen registrants, 90 voted in at least one election. The total number of votes cast by non-U.S. citizens was 227.

Of the non-U.S. citizens who were registered to vote, 76 percent registered through PennDOT, while the remaining 24 percent registered to vote by other means, such as a paper voter registration application.

In Pennsylvania, voter registration applications include the question, “Are you a citizen of the U.S.?” The answer to this yes/no question is the only information the county voter registration office has to verify citizenship prior to a voter registration application being processed.

An additional two registered non-U.S. citizens correctly checked “No” in response to, “Are you a citizen of the U.S.?” on their voter registration applications, but their applications were processed in error.

“I expect that, after conducting a statewide cross check, a far greater number of voter registration and voting irregularities of this nature will be identified,” Schmidt said.

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Dwayne Woodruff, a former Pittsburgh Steelers player and the Democratic candidate for state Supreme Court, criticized President Donald Trump for comments about NFL players not standing for the national anthem.

“This past Friday, the leader of our country made disparaging comments, which only serve to push our country to become more divided and ultimately penalizes our First Amendment rights under the Constitution. The history of our country records the courageous efforts by people we now consider heroes such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali and Rosa Parks; they endeavored against great opposition, to gain and preserve rights and freedom for current and future generations. We must continue to be a country united in justice and equality for all.”

Chairman Marcel Groen, chairman of the state Democratic Party, sided with Woodruff.

“I completely agree with Judge Woodruff, who, as a former Steeler, Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion, knows exactly how to speak to this issue. The president’s remarks were totally uncalled for. He is not our tweeter in chief, he is supposed to be our commander in chief, but that would require a degree of class. I urge each and every person in the commonwealth to vote for Judge Woodruff and the entire Democratic ‘Slate of Eight’ on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017.”

Woodruff faces Republican Sallie Mundy.

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State Sen. Scott Wagner, a Republican candidate for governor, released a McLaughlin & Associates survey showing that he has a lead in the primary of 45 percent to 16 percent over Allegheny County businessman Paul Mango.

“Six months ago, Scott had a 29-point lead over his only other announced opponent,” said campaign manager Jason High. “Today, despite six months of campaigning, his opponent remains 29 points behind. It’s clear that Republicans trust Scott Wagner to end the reckless spending and mismanagement Gov. Wolf has levied against their wallets.”

In a hypothetical three-way race, Wagner pulls 45 percent to 13 percent for Mango and 5 percent for Allegheny County lawyer Laura Ellsworth.

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Congregations of Shaare Shamayim, 9768 Verree Road in Bustleton, has invited candidates in the general election to speak at a forum on Sunday, Oct. 15, at 10 a.m.

Admission is free, and brunch will be served.

To RSVP, call 215–677–1600. ••