A U.S. House of Representatives panel is debating voting by foreigners, which is already illegal

WASHINGTON — Republicans on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Administration argued at a hearing Thursday that there is a need for legislative action to prevent noncitizens from voting in federal elections, even though voting by noncitizens in federal elections is extremely occasional and already illegal.

“America’s elections are for the American people, and we intend to keep them that way,” the committee chairman, Republican Bryan Steil of Wisconsin, said in his opening remarks.

House Democrats said Republicans are laying the groundwork to instill distrust in voting ahead of the November election, echoing the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when then-President Donald Trump encouraged supporters to block the certification of the 2020 presidential election results .

“MAGA Extremists Are Laying Groundwork to Overturn the 2024 Presidential Election.” the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Joe Morelle of New York, said in his opening remarks, using an acronym that stands for Trump supporters.

Responding to local regulations

Foreign nationals cannot vote in federal elections, but can vote in local elections if a local law is passed that allows them to do so. Some municipalities in California, Maryland, and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia, allow noncitizens to vote in local elections.

As the November election approaches Republicans have made it their goal to vote without citizenshipand made immigration policy a campaign issue. Trump, who is the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, has also made the issue a major campaign issue.

House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana helped reveal last week prohibiting foreigners from voting in federal elections, which is already illegal.

Steil said municipalities allowing foreigners to vote “reduces confidence in our elections.” In particular, he criticized Washington for allowing foreigners to participate in elections.

“Washington is setting a new standard that will soon be applicable across the country,” Steil said.

“This creates a number of problems for the state in maintaining (a) clean voter registration roll,” Steil argued.

Scientists and studies often disprove the idea that foreigners vote in federal elections. Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, conducted an analysis of the electoral proceedings in the years 2003–2023 and 29 cases of voting by people who were not citizens of the country were found.

GOP members promote House bill

Republicans on the committee favored an election-related bill, H.R. 8281This Johnson rose on the steps of the Capitol. The bill, sponsored by Texas GOP Rep. Chip Roy, would require states to verify proof of citizenship to prevent noncitizens from voting in federal elections, which is already a crime.

Oklahoma Republican Party representative Stephanie Bice argued that jurisdictions that allow noncitizens to vote should have a separate voter roll. She asked one of the witnesses, Hans von Spakovsky, a senior attorney at the Heritage Foundation, whether there should be a federal law requiring states to separate their voter rolls. Von Spakovsky agreed with this idea.

Bice said the biggest problem she has with localities allowing foreigners to vote is that “the voter rolls are not cleaned.”

Roy’s bill would require states to remove voters from their rolls who fail to prove their citizenship.

Barry Loudermilk, a representative of the Republican Party from Georgia, argued that Americans care about the elections. When foreigners can vote, “we undermine and undercut the value of every vote,” he said.

The bill would be a burden on voters, Democrats say

Washington state Democratic Rep. Derek Kilmer said the bill would impact eligible voters, including members of 12 tribes in his district. He said when tribal members vote, they operate tribal registration cards, which “do not necessarily include citizenship information.”

Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama said the legislation would also make it more complex for eligible voters – especially voters of color – to cast a ballot. She asked a witness being questioned by Democrats, Michael Waldman, president and CEO of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, regarding Republican claims of “widespread voter fraud” when it comes to foreigners voting.

“For the most part, our (election) system is secure,” Waldman said.

Waldman said it was an “urban myth” and that gigantic numbers of foreigners vote in federal elections, and warned that “this year the big lie will be exploited in advance.”

He said those who tried to invalidate the 2020 presidential election are now more organized and trying to “set the stage to challenge the legitimacy of the election.”

He added that the rhetoric regarding many foreigners voting was also used in 2020 by Trump ally Rudy Giuliani, who lost his law license in DC and New York due to false claims that tens of thousands of foreigners voted in the presidential election in Arizona.

“I should note that the lies were repeated by President Trump at the Ellipse as he sent the mob to the Capitol,” Waldman said. “It wasn’t the main argument then, but it is now.”

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