North Carolina court indicted 19 foreign nationals with illegally voting in the 2016 elections

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At least 19 foreign nationals have been charged with voter fraud in North Carolina.

The U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, Matthew G.T. Martin, said Wednesday that the individuals were discovered to have voted in the 2016 presidential elections. At least one of them also voted in the 2018 mid-term elections.  

According to an August 31 indictment in federal court, seven of the individuals were charged with falsely claiming U.S. citizenship, lying on a voter application. They are also charged with misdemeanor charges of voting in 2016.

They were identified as Francisco Antonio-Aguirre, 64, of Guatemala; Roob Kaur Atar-Singh, 57, of Malaysia; Rosalva Negrete-Toledo, aka Rosalva Cortes, 65, of Mexico; Dave Delano Virgil, 57, of Tobago; Eloy Alberto Zayas-Berrier, 70, of Cuba; Emmanuel Olakunle Atoyebi, 31, of Nigeria; and Mokhtar Qaid Ahmed Gulaimid, 48, of Yemen. 

ABC affiliate WTVD reported that Atoyebi was also accused of making false statements in a naturalization proceeding and to a federal agent, while Gulaimid was charged with also making misleading statements in his naturalization process and in an immigration document.

The seven individuals could face up six years in federal prison, a $350,000 fine, and a term of supervised release if they are found guilty.

A voter casts a vote in Durham, North Carolina, on November 8, 2016, for the presidential election. The U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, Matthew G.T. Martin, said Wednesday that 19 foreign nationals were found to have illegally voted in the 2016 presidential elections. Non-citizens are not allowed to vote under U.S. law

A voter casts a vote in Durham, North Carolina, on November 8, 2016, for the presidential election. The U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, Matthew G.T. Martin, said Wednesday that 19 foreign nationals were found to have illegally voted in the 2016 presidential elections. Non-citizens are not allowed to vote under U.S. law

State election officials are expecting a larger share of voters to cast their ballots by mail this year rather than go to the polls like these voters in Cary, North Carolina in 2012

State election officials are expecting a larger share of voters to cast their ballots by mail this year rather than go to the polls like these voters in Cary, North Carolina in 2012

On August 13, 12 foreign nationals were charged with casting votes in the 2016 elections as non-citizens, a misdemeanor that carries up to one-year in jail, a fine that can’t surpass $100,000, or both.

There were identified as Ismay Prudence Kathleen James, 54, of Bermuda; Donald Christian Martyn, 44, of Sierra Leone; Chaim Pinto, 68, of Israel; John Andrew Rapsky, 54, of Canada; Baijoo Pottakulath Thomas, 58, of India; Shuqin Yin, 54, of China;  Chirong Yin Billings, aka Chirong Cummings, 56, of China;  Henry Alberto Araya-Vega, 52, of Costa Rica; Rufina Concho-Locklear, 82, of Mexico; Alberto Damaize-Job, aka Alberto Damaize, 73, of Nicaragua; Armando Nava-Juarez, aka Armando Nava, 51, of Mexico; and  Manuel Efrain Valladares, 48, of El Salvador. 

Under U.S. law, non-citizens are not permitted to register to vote or to vote in a federal election. 

The indictments were revealed on the same day President Donald Trump visited Wilmington and said North Carolina voters should submit their upcoming presidential election votes by mail and then in person as he seeks a second term in the White House.

According to the state election board, it’s a felony to cast a vote twice in the state of North Carolina. A person that submits an absentee ballot is not allowed to change or cancel it, or even choose to vote in person. 

Trump was asked by a reporter from WECT if he had confidence in the vote-by-mail system, which he has opposed in the past.

‘They will vote and then they are going to have to check their vote by going to the poll and voting that way because if it tabulates then they won’t be able to do that,’ Trump said. ‘So, let them send it in and let them go vote.

‘And if the system is as good as they say it is, then they obviously won’t be able to vote [at the poll]. If it isn’t tabulated, they will be able to vote.’

North Carolina’s attorney general, Democrat Josh Stein, said it is outrageous for the president to suggest that people ‘break the law in order to help him sow chaos in our election.’

‘Make sure you vote, but do NOT vote twice!’ Stein tweeted. ‘I will do everything in my power to make sure the will of the people is upheld in November.’  

Attorney General William Barr, asked during a CNN interview about Trump’s suggestion, said he didn’t know the election laws in every state, but agreed with Trump’s belief that mail-in voting is susceptible to fraud. It’s like ‘playing with fire,’ Barr said.

In response, Michigan’ attorney general, Democrat Dana Nessel, tweeted: ‘Hey folks. Attorney General Nessel here-top law enforcement official in Michigan, for those keeping track. Don’t try this at home. I will prosecute you.

States that have relied on mail-in ballots say there is little evidence of fraudulent activity. Multiple studies have debunked the notion of pervasive voter fraud in general and in the vote-by-mail process.

The five states that relied on mail-in ballots even before the coronavirus pandemic – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah – have said they have necessary safeguards in place to ensure against fraud and to prevent hostile foreign intruders from trying to influence the vote. More states intend to rely more heavily on mail-in voting this fall because of the pandemic.

Barr cited a report from more than a decade ago from a commission led by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker that said vote-by-mail was vulnerable to fraud. But the commission pointed out in a statement in May that it had found little evidence of fraud in states such as Oregon that had sufficient safeguards.

The White House defended the president, saying that he has fought hard for an election system that is fair and free from fraud and abuse. 

‘This idea that he is encouraging people to vote twice is yet another example of the media taking him out of context and ignoring the facts,’ White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News Channel on Thursday.

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