One of the many searches we ran on Terapon Adhahn over the past few days revealed that he has been a registered voter since 2002.
That doesn’t make much sense – Adhahn was a legal permanent resident, according to the immigration folks, but not a U.S. citizen. Plus, he was a convicted sex offender, which should have barred him in another way.
Since it’s the weekend, we can’t call the bureaucrats at the county or the Secretary of State’s office to get a clear answer on this one, but we’re working on it. Meanwhile, I checked with Stefan Sharkansky, the blogger and voting issues watchdog who writes at the lively Sound Politics site.
“You absolutely have to be a U.S. citizen to register legally,” Stefan said. I checked the state laws as well, just to be sure, and found the same requirement.
(Later addendum – I should have noted that Stefan posted the information about Adhahn’s voter registration Friday on the Sound Politics site. I’m pretty sure he was the first to mention it publicly, though I haven’t checked every media source. I spotted the registration info through a different source initially. The link to Stefan’s invaluable voter database is here because it’s more readily available.)
We won’t know for a while where Adhahn slipped through the cracks in the registration process. That will take a bit of research. I did run one query, and I see no sign that Adhahn actually voted after his 2002 registration.
Stefan, offering cautious speculation, suggested that one possible route would be the motor-voter registration system: you renew your driver’s license, and you get a registration form at the same time.
“It becomes just another piece of paper that people sign when they’re doing other things that they don’t have to think about,” he said.
What we don’t know is whether the 2002 registration form included an explicit question about citizenship. If it did, and if Adhahn said he was a citizen, well…
The registration forms changed slightly in 2005, following the dust-up over the governor’s race. Stefan graciously sent me a copy of the 2004 registration form, and said he had no reason to think it had changed since 2002.
I meant to upload the thing, but my blogging experience amounts to about two hours, and I’m not quite up to speed yet. You’ll have to trust me when I say the form includes a question in the upper left-hand corner that asks “Are you a citizen of the United States?” and boxes for yes and no.