• 70°

Resolution seeks verification of voters’ citizenship standing

By Staff
Goal is to ensure voting is limited only to qualified citizens
By MIKE VOSS
Contributing Editor
In a split vote along party lines, the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 Monday to approve a resolution calling on the State Board of Elections to verify that each person who registered to vote since January 2004 is a citizen of the United States.
The resolution was introduced by Commissioner Stan Deatherage, who along with Commissioner Hood Richardson is trying to prevent illegal aliens from receiving services, benefits and programs paid for with taxpayers’ money. The resolution calls for the state to “refrain from printing any future voter registration forms in Spanish to avoid any appearance of impropriety; especially since English is the official language of our land, and that Spanish is just one of many languages of people who visit our nation, and most especially since there is no legal requirement that the North Carolina Board of Elections print any voter registration forms in any language other than English.”
The resolution also calls for the governor, General Assembly and N.C. State Board of Elections to insure for perpetuity new voter registrations “are entirely devoid of noncitizens.”
During one of the board’s meetings last month, Deatherage said the state is slow when it comes to determining if newly registered voters are U.S. citizens. The commissioner said the state must be diligent when it comes to allowing only qualified citizens to vote, which he described as a “most essential and greatest right” of U.S. citizens.
Deatherage also questioned the need for ballots to be printed in Spanish, saying that knowing English is an essential requirement of citizenship. People who are not U.S. citizens should not be allowed to vote, he said.
Because the federal and state governments aren’t doing much, if anything, about illegal immigration, it’s up to Beaufort County to address the issue, Deatherage said.
When the resolution was read to the Beaufort County Board of Elections during its meeting Tuesday, board Chairman G.D. Elliott said, “Who’s going to enforce all that?”
Kellie Harris Hopkins, elections director for Beaufort County, said the board and her office will follow the law — as it exists now or if it is changed in the future — when it comes to verifying that people who register to vote are citizens. As it stands now, Hopkins said, the State Board of Elections has the responsibility of verifying that newly registered voters are citizens.
A person registering to vote is asked to provide the last four numbers of his or her Social Security number and/or his or her driver’s license number. That information is forwarded to the State Board of Elections for it to use in verifying citizenship, Hopkins said in an interview last month. The county elections board does not verify citizenship, she said.
The county’s elections board and Hopkins said they plan to adopt a wait-and-see strategy when it comes to what happens in regard to the resolution. A key to accomplishing what the resolution seeks is finding “some database that is verifiable for citizenship,” Hopkins said.
In a related matter, the board, also along party lines, voted 4-3 to remove foreign-language options from all county telephone systems. Board Chairman Jay McRoy and commissioners Al Klemm, Deatherage and Richardson, all Republicans, voted for both measures. Commissioners Jerry Langley, Ed Booth and Robert Cayton, all Democrats, voted against both measures.
The board has discussed the English-only provision for county telephone systems several times. In 2007, commissioners voted to remove signs written in Spanish from all county buildings, except those signs required by law.
In other business, the board voted 6-1, with Booth dissenting, to pursue local legislative options regarding providing services to illegal aliens. The commissioners have consulted with attorney Michael Hethmon on that matter. Some commissioners indicated they are optimistic the county can have more say in whether illegal immigrants receive county services and to what degree they may benefit from those services.
County Manager Paul Spruill informed the board that Virginia allows it counties to deny some taxpayer-funded services to illegal immigrants. If Beaufort County wants to do the same thing, it may need permission from the state to do so, he said.
Richardson voiced concerns that “liberal bureaucrats” at places such as the Beaufort County Health Department are determining if illegal immigrants receive county services instead of elected officials. Richardson said elected officials should make that decision. He accused bureaucrats of making such decisions without consulting elected officials.