Welcome to March Madness time, when underdogs seem to come out of nowhere to defeat much higher-ranked opponents. For those who participate in the yearly challenge, incorrect forecasts, especially in the first round, can cause downstream consequences in your bracket from which you may never recover. This year, the 14th-seed Oakland Golden Grizzlies already bested third-seed Kentucky in a stunning upset. Millions of March Madness participants saw their brackets shattered as 74.21% of participants in the ESPN Tournament Challenge chose Kentucky to make the Sweet 16.

You learn about your March Madness misfires pretty rapidly. Similarly, as America watches U.S. government decisions regarding immigration policy, the downstream consequences become readily apparent. According to a Pew Research Center Survey, a majority of Americans (78%) feel that the large number of migrants seeking entry to this country is either a crisis or a major problem. When asked, Americans tend to cite two major concerns about our immigration system: economic burdens and security concerns.

In this hotly contested election year, many people also raise concerns over whether migrants in the U.S.A. illegally will register and vote. It has already happened.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania registered aliens to vote at driver license offices for more than two decades. The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) sought the records, under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), regarding Pennsylvania’s efforts to identify and remove aliens from voting rolls. Unfortunately for those who value transparency, Pennsylvania displayed a stubborn reticence in responding to the request. PILF sued and substantially prevailed in the U.S. District Court (MDPA). Pennsylvania appealed, and the case is now being briefed in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The Biden Justice Department sided with PILF’s position and filed an amicus curiae brief. The Biden DOJ’s brief noted: “The Secretary’s crabbed interpretation of Section 8(i) also would frustrate Congress’s purposes in enacting the NVRA, leaving States’ voter registration activities entirely immune from the public scrutiny that Congress drafted Section 8(i) to provide.”

Aliens on voter rolls. As the Pennsylvania situation demonstrates, non-citizen voting is not simply theoretical but rather one of many downstream consequences of failed immigration policy.

Many elected officials obstinately refuse to recognize the threat and even propose legislation that will compound the problem. This month, Pennsylvania House Speaker Joanna McClinton proposed changes to the election laws that would include same-day voter registration. She wants prospective voters to appear at any one of the thousands upon thousands of polling places, register to vote, and then vote on the machine, all on Election Day.

Talk about downstream consequences. Maybe Pennsylvania legislators should think about fixing the voting roll problems already the subject of litigation before turning each polling place across the Commonwealth’s 67 counties into an on-demand registration office.

At the March 19, 2024, press conference announcing her proposed legislation, McClinton featured a voter who spoke about having to “. . . overcome barriers simply to cast [her] ballot.” She also featured an advocate who stated, without particularity, that people with disabilities would benefit. Neither of these supporters nor McClinton provided any specifics as to the alleged impediments that same-day voter registration would solve.

On the other hand, allowing voter registration on election day at polling places deprives election administrators of the time necessary to confirm voter eligibility. The 2023 Election Assistance Commission report found incorrect addresses to be the most common reason for ineligibility, something that often takes time and the return of mail as undeliverable to begin to determine. And if it is later found that the voter’s address or identity was invalid, in the case of a same day registrant, the vote has already been cast and counted.

As the Biden DOJ noted in its amicus brief in the above-mentioned Pennsylvania case, “Congress found that the right to vote is a fundamental right, the exercise of which all levels of government have a duty to promote, and that discriminatory and unfair registration laws and procedures can damage federal voter participation and disproportionately harm voter participation by various groups, including racial minorities.” Non-citizen voting, the foreseeable downstream consequence of failed immigration policy, can be prevented, or at least held in check, by reasonable registration and voting security measures. Both federal and state legislators should take this into account when proposing any type of voting legislation.

Note from the Editor: The Federalist Society takes no positions on particular legal and public policy matters. Any expressions of opinion are those of the author. We welcome responses to the views presented here. To join the debate, please email us at [email protected].