A controversial statewide political issue is starting to heat up again.  The issue involves non-U.S. citizens registered to vote in Pennsylvania. 


The subject was brought up at a legislative luncheon held today by the Erie County League of Women Voters.   State Rep. Brad Roae (R-Crawford-Erie) said he wants the state to be more cooperative in determining how many foreign nationals are registered to vote in Pennsylvania.


Roae made his comments during a panel discussion involving other state lawmakers who represent Erie County. The panel was asked what steps should be taken to increase the accuracy of voter registration.

Roae said thousands of non-U.S. citizens are registered to vote in Pennsylvania due to a glitch by PennDOT.  People who are applying for, or renewing, their driver’s license, are asked if they are a U.S. citizen.  They also are asked if they want to register to vote.   Between 1995 and 2017, people who revealed they are not a U.S. citizen were still able to sign up to vote as part of PennDOT's Motor Voter program.

Controversy still stirs as to how many foreign nationals are registered in Pennsylvania.  The state claims 11,198 people.  The Pennsylvania Department of State is working with county election officials to track down those voters.

However, a group called the Public Interest Legal Foundation is disputing the state's 11,000+ number and filed a lawsuit to determine if it's higher.  Roae says the state should cooperate with the group.


"All over Pennsylvania, there's all kinds of races that are decided by one vote for different local elected positions.  So even if you had one non-citizen vote in an election, you can have a city council member, or a township supervisor, a township auditor, somebody like that could be elected by non-citizens,” he said.


The lawsuit was filed after a Philadelphia election official testified before a state Senate committee.  That official said he was told by someone from the Pennsylvania Department of State that over 100,000 non-U.S. citizens are registered to vote in the Commonwealth.