Non-U.S. citizens who vote: What's the impact?

6:48 PM, Oct 11, 2012   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- The estimated 4,000 non-U.S. citizens who can vote in Michigan can have an impact on elections in the state, according to a local political science professor.

A 13 On Your Side investigation found non-U.S. citizens are voting illegally. Ruth Johnson, who is Michigan's secretary of state, estimates 4,000 non-citizens are on the voter registry.

Previous Coverage -- 13 On Your Side Investigation: Non-U.S. citizens are voting in Michigan

We investigated if the illegal votes can sway an election. After combing the last decade of state elections we brought our findings to Dr. Doug Koopman, a political science professor at Calvin College.

"Four thousand votes can make a difference," says Koopman.  "It has made a difference in the state of Michigan."

Most races are decided by hundreds of thousands of votes, but over the last decade 13 On Your Side found several cases where it was a close call.

State records show the 47th District's State Representative Primary in 2002 was decided by two votes.  That same year the Michigan attorney general's election was decided by about 5,000 votes.

The biggest impact is felt in local elections. In Hart, a 2011 board of trustees position was so close a name was pulled out of a basket to determine the winner.

As for the upcoming presidential election, Koopman says 4,000 votes in Michigan will not make a difference.

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