Secretary of State Jon Husted says it’s just part of guarding the integrity of Ohio elections, and not partisanship, that is causing him to try to access a federal immigration database to rid Ohio’s voter rolls of noncitizens, who aren’t eligible to vote. Not that Husted is sitting on proof that a flood of foreigners has registered to vote in Ohio. The Republican admits the number, if it exists, will be small. “There are a lot of agendas,” he said in an interview. “I don’t have that agenda,” saying he was one of the most “pro-immigration” politicians around. He said he would proceed carefully on citizenship challenges, case-by-case. But The Denver Post reported last week that Husted is one of at least 11 top Republican state election officials around the country who have joined in an effort to get access to the federal list, known as SAVE, for Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlement, created to check noncitizens’ eligibility for certain benefits. Its reliability in checking for citizenship status is unclear.
Even Husted acknowledges the list will contain both citizens and noncitizens and that further checks will be required. So why pursue it, particularly now, with less than four months to go before a presidential election? Why pursue it only in company with other Republicans, when it will be construed as a purely partisan effort to discourage minority immigrant citizens from exercising the franchise? Why taint what, in Husted’s case, has been a clear effort to steer Ohio clear of the picture voter ID laws that other states have enacted that disproportionately impact the poor and minorities?