House Passes Bill to Require Proof of Citizenship for Voting in Federal Elections

Joseph Lord
By Joseph Lord
July 10, 2024Congress

WASHINGTON—The U.S. House of Representatives on July 10 passed legislation that would require voters to provide proof of citizenship to vote in federal elections.

The bill was approved in a mostly party-line vote of 221–198.

Five Democrats—Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Donald Davis (D-N.C.), Jared Golden (D-Maine), Vincente Gonzalez (D-Texas), and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-Wash.)—joined all Republicans in voting for the legislation. Other Democrats opposed the bill, arguing that it’s redundant due to existing prohibitions on noncitizen voting.

The measure is likely dead-on-arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate. The White House has expressed opposition to the bill.

The Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act—introduced by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) in May with the support of House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and over 100 other Republicans—would require people to provide documentary proof of U.S. citizenship in voter registration applications for federal elections. States would be barred from processing applications without it.

Under the bill, acceptable forms of proof of citizenship include a passport, birth certificate, a government-issued photo ID showing the person was born in the United States, or a military ID showing the same.

It would also require states to purge their voter rolls of any current noncitizens, in part by giving states no-cost access to databases run by the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration.

In a whip notice, House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) advised Democrats against voting for the legislation, saying that it ” irresponsibly call[s] into question the credibility of our elections.”

Democrats say that under the terms of the bill, it would become more difficult for natural-born and naturalized citizens to register as well.

“It is already illegal under current law for noncitizens to register to vote or to vote in federal elections,” Ms. Clark’s office said.

Republicans, agree that federal law technically prohibits voting by illegal immigrants, but say there are loopholes that make it possible for an illegal immigrant to vote.

“A lot of people have asked, ‘Well, wait a minute, isn’t it already against federal law for a noncitizen to vote in a U.S. Election?’ Mr. Johnson said during a press call on July 9.

“It’s a part of the federal statutes,” Mr. Johnson said. “The problem is … there’s no mechanism to ensure that only those registering or voting are actually citizens.”

Republicans’ concerns are primarily related to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), dubbed the Motor Voter law, which allows people to register to vote at the same time that they pick up a driver’s license from their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles or other state agencies.

Foreigners living permanently in the United States are encouraged to get a U.S. drivers license; 19 states and the District of Columbia allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

The NVRA does not allow states to ask for documentary proof of citizenship, instead requiring that they take an individual’s word that they are a citizen unless the individual’s eligibility is called into question.

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona that the NVRA, as a federal law, supersedes existing state laws requiring documentary proof to vote—effectively banning states from imposing additional requirements for federal voter registration.

The White House has pushed back against the bill, saying states already have safeguards to verify voter eligibility and maintain the accuracy of voter rolls.

“This bill would do nothing to safeguard our elections, but it would make it much harder for all eligible Americans to register to vote and increase the risk that eligible voters are purged from voter rolls,” it said in a July 8 statement of administration policy.

From The Epoch Times