ChiTrib Laments Plight of Illegal Voter, Yet Reporter Notes Problem's 'Steady Increase'

Perhaps seeking to paint a sympathetic portrait of a woman charged with illegally voting in a federal election before naturalizing as a U.S. citizen, the Chicago Tribune's Antonio Olivo buried the lede in his story, "Citizenship in sight, but then she voted."

In the midst of lamenting the plight of one Beth Keathley, Olivo uncovered concerns about so-called motor-voter registration and how it can lead to non-citizens successfully registering to vote, although doing so is against the law. Of course, this information didn't start to come to light until the 10th paragraph in Olivo's story, well after he mentioned how a deportation could tear Keathley from her 9-month-old daughter (emphasis mine):

There are no records kept to accurately reflect the size of the problem. But immigration attorneys around the country have seen a steady increase in recent years of deportation cases and declined citizenship due to illegal voting, said Carlina Tapia-Ruano, a Chicago attorney who is the immediate past president of the Washington-based American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Before the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the "motor voter" law, registration took place before a sworn elections official, usually inside a local election board office or voting precinct -- places hard to find for even native-born citizens.


Under a federal anti-discrimination law, state workers aren't allowed to confirm an applicant's citizenship before processing a voter registration form, said Beth Kaufman, spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office.

"Our job is to ask whether you want to register to vote, and if the person says 'yes,' we give them a sheet to sign from the board of elections that says: 'Are you a citizen of the United States?' and you check that box 'yes' or 'no' and you sign it," Kaufman said. "We are not allowed to ask anything else."

Some immigrants, confused, leave the question unanswered and still receive voter registration cards, Tapia-Ruano said.

Media Bias Debate Immigration Crime Chicago Tribune Antonio Olivo