Democrats make up more than half of the 155 suspected noncitizen voters that Secretary of State Scott Gessler is referring to prosecutors, according to figures released by his office Friday. The party affiliation breakdown shows that 88 of the voters are Democrats, 49 are unaffiliated, and 13 are Republicans. Five others are from minor parties, according to numbers provided by Gessler’s office to The Associated Press. No charges have been filed yet against the voters, which Gessler said Monday are being referred to prosecutors. It’s the latest chapter in a heated debate that Gessler, a Republican, has helped drive since taking office in 2011, repeatedly saying noncitizens on voter rolls are vulnerability in the system. He said this week that officials “can no longer turn a blind eye” to it.
But Democrats and voting rights groups have questioned Gessler’s findings and have argued that the data does not back up his claims.
“I think that he has chased this boogeyman for so long, he can’t let go of it,” said Ellen Dumm, a communications consultant for voter advocacy groups that have been critical of Gessler’s push.
The voters sent to prosecutors are among 4,201 people who have received letters from Gessler since last August, asking them to affirm their citizenship or voluntarily remove themselves from the voting rolls. More than 500 have responded affirming their citizenship, and at least 1,000 had moved with no forwarding address. Another 70 responded asking to have their registrations cancelled because they weren’t citizens.
The 155 voters under scrutiny did not respond to the letters, and have voted in one or more elections, Gessler’s office said.