I won’t vote in the upcoming Presidential election.
It’s not that I don’t want to, but I gave up citizenship last November, so I can’t vote in the US elections anymore. (If you want a general overview of my reasons for renouncing, here is my Medium article about it.)
Yet look what I received in the mail last week:
Yes, that’s a voter ballot for California.
Don’t worry, I won’t use it. I don’t commit fraud: just a general policy of mine.
This does say something about “the system” in the US, though, doesn’t it? I put “the system” in quotation marks because there doesn’t really seem to be a system.
Despite having renounced almost a year ago, California still thinks I’m a citizen.
An article by Robert W Wood last year mentioned three US government agencies that keep records of renunciations: the State Department, the FBI, and the IRS.
The US State Department knows I renounced. They were there, after all, when I did it, at the Consulate in Amsterdam. They accepted my $2350, the fee for renouncing. (That still rankles.) Presumably, they counted me when they looked at their totals. Do they make a list of names? I don’t know.
The IRS does make a list, and four times a year, they issue a “name and shame” list of those who have renounced (officially called “Quarterly Publication of Individuals, Who Have Chosen to Expatriate”). Since it’s the IRS assembling that list, it won’t include those who haven’t filed their tax forms but still renounce. So it’s incomplete. I did file my forms, yet my name hasn’t appeared on that list yet, and I’m not the only renunciant who hasn’t appeared on the list.
The FBI counts renunciations too, but doesn’t publish their list. Am I included there? I don’t know.
The totals each agency reports are different, with the published IRS list reporting the lowest number of renunciations and the State Department reporting the highest number. Presumably the State Department’s list should be the closest to accurate, since they administer the actual acts of renunciation.
In any case, it’s clear that federal and state government agencies don’t talk to each other. The State Department, the IRS and the FBI don’t share data. They don’t share data with each other and they don’t share it with the states.
If they had, I would have been taken off California’s voter list; they’d see I’m no longer eligible to vote.
What does this tell us?
Two things come to mind:
There may be much more voter fraud than we suspect.
The fear many overseas Americans feel – will I be stopped by Customs and Immigration when I travel to the US if I haven’t filed my tax forms? – is not necessary. If the State Department, the FBI and the IRS can’t communicate a simple list with each other or with state governments, it seems likely that they won’t be able to communicate it to other government agencies like Customs and Immigration.
Feel free to add your comments below, but keep them civil!