California voter registration laws encourage foreign interference in elections
A Russian national or any other noncitizen can easily influence a U.S. election by simply registering to vote in California — just ask Elizaveta Shuvalova.They only found out because she self-reported that she was a noncitizen. They really have no idea whether there are other noncitizens on their voting rolls and some jurisdictions are actually encouraging noncitizens to vote. It is a much more blatant example of foreign interference than any alleged Facebook ads run after the election was over that triggered much of the brouhaha over the 2016 election.
Ms. Shuvalova said she didn’t even know her name was added to the San Francisco voter rolls in 2012, when she was a 21-year-old Russian citizen living legally in the U.S. but ineligible to vote.
“I’ve never registered for anything in my entire life,” said Ms. Shuvalova, who became a U.S. citizen early last year. “This is news to me.”
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The Washington Times obtained a San Francisco County voter log that detailed Ms. Shuvalova’s registration history and presented the document to her.
It showed that she signed up as a Democrat in July 2012 and that her registration was canceled in May 2016 after she told election officials she wasn’t a citizen. Her registration, as a Republican, was reactivated in March 2017.
“This is definitely a shocker to me. It is like an identity fraud because this is not coming from my end,” said Ms. Shuvalova, who now lives in New York, works as a personal trainer and calls herself a Democrat. “Like I told you, I haven’t even been a citizen during that time frame. So what can we do about it?”
More of a shocker is how easily Ms. Shuvalova was registered to vote in California without a citizenship check. Conservative watchdogs say the problem is surprisingly common across the country.
Noncitizens are signing up to vote in states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia, according to research by the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a nonprofit law firm that advocates for election integrity. The foundation found that a large percentage of those noncitizens managed to cast ballots, too.
Ms. Shuvalova was signed up — possibly without her knowledge — by an organization circulating a petition for a 2013 ballot initiative to stop a massive condominium development on the San Francisco waterfront.
A signed registration card was submitted with the petition to qualify Ms. Shuvalova as a petition signer, said John Arntz, director of the San Francisco Department of Elections.
Activists often hand in stacks of registration cards with their petitions, he said.
Election officials say they conduct routine cross-references of voter registration information with databases at the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and the secretary of state’s office but did not flag Ms. Shuvalova as a noncitizen.
The box for “vote by mail” was checked on her registration card, and the county began sending her ballots.
County records show she received nine ballots but never voted.
The only ballot returned to the election office was in May 2016, a month before the state’s Democratic primary, with the words “not citizen” written on it. Her self-identification as a noncitizen was noted on the voter log.