Why did NC DMV illegally register non-citizen voters?

by Jay Delancy

Raleigh, NC – While some would rather see their dentist than wait in line at Division of Motor Vehicles, most 16-year-old driver wannabees see the DMV differently. But a third perspective might involve non-US citizens, and a Moore County court case shows the peril they can face while at DMV.

According to court documents obtained by VIP, in 2005, a Jamaican national, named Damien Omar Sullivan walked into a DMV office, using his Jamaican passport to prove his identity . . .  and registered to vote.

As a foreign citizen, he applied for a “Legal Presence” (LP) driver license for the duration of his visit. These allow LEGAL immigrants to drive while in the US.

Through his attorney, we reached out to Mr. Sullivan, but have not yet heard back. Even with English as one of his primary languages, he still may not understand our unique system. So, one might imagine Sullivan’s confusion when the DMV employee, first, issued his LP license and then asked if he wanted to vote.

While his attorney confirmed the confusion, we can only guess Mr. Sullivan’s thoughts at that moment . . . .

“A license examiner wants me to vote,” he might think. “Am I even allowed to vote here? Guess so . . . or else a government official would invite me to do it.”

The Bottom Line Up Front: Someone at DMV registered him to vote. He was quietly acquitted by Judge Kenneth Crow, but that’s another story. Last week, we interviewed DA Maureen Krueger about this case. While she did not allow its recording, she promised a written response, which we will post when received.

There are more details to this case and we are planning a series on the Voter Integrity Project website. Today we look at the role played by North Carolina’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Email containing SBOE summary of their 2011 data matching project that found 637 immigrants who were also registered to vote.

Email containing SBOE summary of their 2011 data matching project that found 637 immigrants who were also registered to vote.

According to authenticated email obtained by VIP, the State Board of Elections found 637 LEGAL immigrants, Sullivan among them, who lawfully obtained a driver’s license, specifically created for non-US citizens; and were registered for voting in US elections.

It’s now settled fact that, in 2005, the DMV illegally gave voting rights to at least one non-citizen. And 636 other such drivers were registered to vote. The question we are having trouble getting answered involves how many more LP drivers were registered to vote by the DMV?

On the low end, if only two or three such drivers registered to vote at DMV, it might suggest a few employees with bad habits and ignorance of one very basic nature of US civics.

But what if the total is anywhere near the high end? Inviting 637 non-US citizens to commit a felony suggests a systematic defiance of the law. Unless a statute of limitations applies here, any DMV employee who registered people to vote, while also issuing them a non-citizen driver’s license, should be criminally investigated.

NCGS § 163-275 (13) declares it a felony, “[f]or any person, knowing that a person is not a citizen of the United States, to instruct or coerce that person to register to vote or to vote.”