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FACT CHECK: ‘Non-Citizen’ Voter In James O’Keefe’s Voter Fraud Video Is Actually A Citizen

By Scott Keyes  

"FACT CHECK: ‘Non-Citizen’ Voter In James O’Keefe’s Voter Fraud Video Is Actually A Citizen"

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James O'Keefe

Conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe

Conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe released a new video today supposedly exposing voter fraud in North Carolina by highlighting non-citizens like Zbigniew Gorzkowski who have voted in recent elections.

The problem: Gorzkowski is an American citizen.

In fact, if O’Keefe had done a simple Nexis search for “Zbigniew Gorzkowski”, he would have found a single article from the News & Observer in 2008 noting that Gorzkowski and his wife are naturalized citizens:

Customers flock through the red door of Zbigniew “Ziggy” and wife Halina Gorzkowski’s European grocery and flower shop to buy one of the 12 varieties they sell. The pierogis and 400 eastern European food items and flowers are also punching the naturalized citizen couple’s ticket for their version of the American Dream.

ThinkProgress spoke with Gorzkowski this morning. He verified that this information was indeed correct and he had been an American citizen since the late 1980s. Therefore, his votes in the 2008 and 2010 elections were not only perfectly legal, but encouraged as a civic duty.

In other words, the one instance in the video where O’Keefe purports to show that a non-citizen had actually voted, in fact shows that a citizen voted.

The episode does speak to a larger underlying problem with most accusations of voter fraud. It’s what I call the “Scooby Doo routine”. People like O’Keefe make wild voter fraud accusations like non-citizens voting, only to discover a much simpler explanation for the situation.

In this case, O’Keefe is using “evidence” of foreigners voting in American elections to supposedly demonstrate the need for draconian security measures like voter ID, which could disenfranchise 20 million citizens across the country. However, his evidence actually shows nothing more than an American citizen exercising his civic duty. Earlier this year, South Carolina went through the same Scooby Doo routine after Attorney General Alan Wilson claimed to have unearthed evidence of 953 dead voters, only for his state investigation to ultimately find no dead voters — and zero voter fraud — but rather a handful of clerical errors.

O’Keefe has a responsibility as a journalist to ensure the veracity of his facts before he makes wild charges like these. A simple phone call or Nexis search would have sufficed, yet doing so would have undercut his spurious argument that voter fraud is a widespread problem in the United States.

Update

ThinkProgress spoke with the family of the first “non-citizen” featured in O’Keefe’s video, William Romero, who informed us that Romero is a citizen as well.

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