A Cuban immigrant who has been in the United States since the 1960s, served in the military, worked for state and federal agencies and voted in every major election since 1976 did not become a United States citizen until last week.
The episode is evidence of a "broken voting system," and supports the need for voter identification laws, a commentary in The Wall Street Journal
The New York Times
reported that 58-year-old Mario Hernandez had been given open-ended parole on his arrival as a child which allowed him to live and work in the United States but it did not make him a resident. The Journal commentary was part of a "Best of the Web Today" column summarizing the story in the Times.
Hernandez mistakenly assumed his parents had completed his citizenship paperwork, and only realized they hadn't when trying to locate his naturalization papers to apply for a passport recently, according to the Times.
The Journal's James Taranto used the Times story to make the case for voter ID laws.
"Noncitizens, including legal resident aliens, are forbidden to vote in every state," Taranto wrote. "States that have sought to incorporate verification of citizenship into the voter-registration process have encountered obstacles from the Obama administration and denunciations from the New York Times."
Taranto cited a Times editorial in March
in which the newspaper said citizenship-verification requirements are a "ruse" to "keep eligible voters from the polls" because Democratic voters disproportionately have a more difficult time producing the requirement documents.
"As the case of Mario Hernandez illustrates, without verification, there is nothing to prevent noncitizens from voting. His is not an example of fraud, merely an error that was both unintentional and harmless, since he believed he was a citizen and was legally entitled to become one," according to the Journal commentary.
"But if Florida required proof of citizenship as a prerequisite for voter registration, Mario Hernandez likely would have become a citizen years ago."
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