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Wash. Tries To Get Immigrant Data For Voter Rolls

Austin Jenkins


OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s Secretary of State has joined with Colorado and several other states to request access to a federal database that checks immigration status. That information could be used to remove illegal immigrants from the voter rolls. But it probably won’t happen before the 2012 election.

It’s called The Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program or SAVE. Typically SAVE is used to check the immigration status of applicants for government benefits. But now states like Washington, Colorado and Florida want to use SAVE to root out illegal immigrant voters.

“We are not highly concerned," says Shane Hamlin from the Washington secretary of state's office. "We don’t think that there are a large number of non-citizens on the voter rolls casting illegal ballots.”

Nonetheless, Washington relies on what Secretary of State Sam Reed has called an “unenforceable honor system.” That’s because it doesn’t require people registering to vote to prove they are in the country legally.

Reed got word this week that he will be able to access SAVE. But it’s unclear what that means since the database requires an immigrant’s federal Alien ID number -– something the state of Washington doesn’t currently collect.

On the Web:

SAVE program: