Some people who are in the U.S. legally but who are not citizens were mistakenly allowed to register to vote in Philadelphia because of a glitch in Pennsylvania’s electronic driver’s licensing system, a city election official said Wednesday. Al Schmidt, a Republican who sits on Philadelphia’s three-member election commission, said that since 2006 at least 168 noncitizens registered to vote in the city through the motor voter driver’s licensing system. In some cases, they voted, and some of them voted in more than one election, Schmidt said. Schmidt said he became aware of those people because they had contacted his office. Many more noncitizens could have mistakenly registered through the system in Philadelphia and elsewhere in Pennsylvania, he said.
“This is a real concern,” Schmidt said. “It is harmful to election integrity, and it is harmful to members of the immigrant community who are applying for citizenship. If you’ve registered to vote in the U.S., and you’re not a citizen, it’s potential grounds for the denial of your citizenship application.”
The Pennsylvania Department of State said it is working to fix the system and was aware of the problem before Schmidt contacted it in July. A spokeswoman could not immediately say when the department first became aware of the issue.
The department is looking into the total number of mistakenly registered voters and could not provide an estimate, the spokeswoman said.