I keep seeing these figures popping up in the news from time to time but we never seem to nail down what the real numbers are behind them. How many noncitizens, either in the country legally or illegally, are registered to vote? And no doubt far more to the point, how many of them have actually voted? Both would be bad, but the possibility of the latter is exponentially worse.

That question has come to the Keystone State in full force this year. As reported in the Washington Times, the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) has filed suit in federal court in Harrisburg seeking to have the State of Pennsylvania turn over the numbers. If you’re thinking that noncitizens can’t register to vote you’re correct in theory, but not in practice. State officials have allegedly already acknowledged that a “glitch” in the driver’s license renewal process allowed noncitizens to automatically register to vote.

More than 100,000 noncitizens are registered to vote in Pennsylvania alone, according to testimony submitted Monday in a lawsuit demanding the state come clean about the extent of its problems.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation, which has identified similar noncitizen voting problems in studies of Virginia and New Jersey, said Pennsylvania officials have admitted noncitizens have been registering and voting in the state “for decades.”

But state officials have stonewalled PILF requests for access to the data that could expose the problem, the group says in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Harrisburg.

“For months, Pennsylvania bureaucrats have concealed facts about noncitizens registering and voting — that ends today,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said.

That 100K figure is being attributed to Philadelphia Commissioner Al Schmidt, who originally discovered the “glitch” but who is not commenting to the press about it. The state is refusing to comment on pending litigation also, but several counties have provided PILF with requested information and they’ve turned up some doozies.

They provide details of several people in Pennsylvania, some identified by name, who are noncitizens and are definitely on record as not only having been registered for years but voted in multiple election cycles. The federal “Motor Voter” law is supposed to allow private groups to demand purges of the rolls and information on the cleaning of the records, but Pennsylvania has refused to cooperate thus far.

The group previously reported over 1,000 incidents of noncitizens registered to vote in New Jersey and another 5,500 in Virginia, with approximately a third of those from Virginia actually showing up at the polls and voting. Those may not sound like large numbers, but they only represent the ones who were identified and removed from the rolls, not the total number of noncitizens who made it through because of this “glitch.”

What’s truly curious here is why state officials in Pennsylvania would be fighting this request so fervently and trying to prevent the data from coming to light. I understand how it might be embarrassing for election officials, but the larger danger here is the risk of undermining their own state government. Once people find out that something like this was going on but hear that their elected officials are stonewalling, why would they have any confidence in the election results? This is something of a state constitutional crisis in the making.

Exit question: Let’s just say that these estimates are anywhere close to the actual numbers. If there were 100K noncitizens voting in Pennsylvania in 2016, how in the world did Hillary Clinton lose Pennsylvania that badly?