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House Passes Bill to Prohibit Noncitizen Voting in Federal Elections

On Wednesday, the House passed a bill aimed at tightening voting requirements by expanding proof-of-citizenship mandates and implementing voter roll purges for federal elections, a move endorsed by former President Trump.

The legislation, known as the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act, passed with a 221-198 vote. Five Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the bill. It now heads to the Senate, where it faces strong opposition from Democrats and is unlikely to advance.

President Biden has promised to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

Critics argue that the bill’s main provision—banning noncitizens from voting—is redundant since noncitizen voting is already illegal. They fear the bill will more likely disenfranchise U.S. citizens than prevent illegal voting by noncitizens.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) defended the bill, asserting that noncitizens have voted in U.S. elections despite existing laws. “Even though it’s already illegal, this is happening,” Johnson stated on the House floor.

Johnson previously told reporters, “We all know, intuitively, that a lot of illegals are voting in federal elections. But it’s not been something that is easily provable. We don’t have that number. This legislation will allow us to do exactly that—it will prevent that from happening. And if someone tries to do it, it will now be unlawful within the states.”

However, research contradicts Johnson’s claims. A study by the Brennan Center for Justice found only 30 suspected—not confirmed—cases of noncitizen voting out of 23.5 million votes.

The bill’s foundation is the assertion that noncitizens are voting, and that Democrats are intentionally allowing undocumented immigrants to vote, a claim that drives the legislation.

Johnson’s push for the bill serves as a display of solidarity with the right wing of his party and aligns with Trump’s priorities. Johnson publicly supported the idea during an April press conference with Trump, at a time when he was seeking GOP backing amidst threats to his leadership from some Republican lawmakers.

Trump urged Republican lawmakers to pass the bill in a Truth Social post on Tuesday, writing: “Republicans must pass the Save Act, or go home and cry yourself to sleep.”

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), who introduced the bill, claimed, “Radical progressive Democrats know this and are using open border policies while also attacking election integrity laws to fundamentally remake America.”

Roy and Johnson have previously clashed, especially over bipartisan budget efforts, but they agree on immigration issues. Roy accused Democrats of exploiting open borders to secure one-party rule, citing a verbal slip by President Biden, where he seemingly referred to Hispanic immigrants as “voters.”

Roy also criticized Democrats for opposing a bill that would exclude noncitizens from census apportionment counts.

Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), who emigrated from Peru at age 5, countered, “I think they believe in their own heads that somehow immigrants are bad and we’re terrible. We know the data shows that immigrants commit fewer crimes, and communities with many immigrants are safer.”

Advocates warn that the bill would make voter registration more difficult for U.S. citizens and could purge more citizens than noncitizens from voter rolls. Juan Espinoza of UnidosUS stated, “Harmful and false rhetoric of noncitizen voters also spreads disinformation that targets and undermines Latino voters. This bill is a dangerous political ploy being used to suppress the vote in communities of color and further undermine voting rights in this country.”

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