US House of Representatives passes bill requiring proof of citizenship to vote in federal elections

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation that would require people registering to vote to provide proof of citizenship to participate in federal elections.

Legislation, passed 221-198It would also require states to check their voter registrations for noncitizens. Pennsylvania’s House delegation voted along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats voting against. Rep. Dwight Evans (D-3rd District) did not vote.

This Protecting Americans’ Voting Rights Actor SAVE is intended to prevent non-citizens from voting. This act is already illegal because under current US law, only citizens can vote in federal elections, but National Voter Registration Act of 1993 prohibits states from certifying citizenship status.

Suffrage vary depending on the conditionSome states, such as Georgia and Wisconsin, require photo identification, while others, such as Pennsylvania and New Mexico, require no documentation.

States that require photo ID or other documents exploit driver’s licenses, military IDs, student IDs, birth certificates, tribal IDs, and even a recent utility bill.

The SAVE Act, introduced by Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas in May, would require most people to have a passport to register to vote.

Only about 48% of US citizens have passportaccording to the Department of State. Driver’s licenses and tribal identification cards generally do not prove a person’s citizenship and cannot be used to register under the SAVE Act.

The data also suggests that non-citizen voting is not a widespread problem, contrary to what many House Republicans claim.

According to Associated Press Press Agencystates such as North Carolina, GeorgiaArizona, California, and Texas reviewed their voter registrations from 2016 to 2022. The audits found that fewer than 50 noncitizens voted in each state in the last election, representing more than 23 million votes cast combined in each state.

The bill is unlikely to pass in the Democratic-majority Senate.

Party division

House Republicans strongly support Roy’s bill, HR8281.

On the House floor Wednesday, House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, urged his colleagues to pass the bill, saying it was “one of the most important votes that members of this chamber will ever take in their careers.”

Last month, Johnson’s office released a 22-page document report arguing that the SAVE Act is critical to the integrity of American elections.

Johnson blamed the Democratic Party for keeping America’s “borders wide open to every country in the world” and said Democrats “want illegal immigrants to vote in our elections.”

On Monday, the Biden administration issued Statement The administration opposed the legislation, arguing there was no reason to worry about non-U.S. voters and that the legislation would only make it harder for eligible Americans to vote.

Rep. Joe Morelle of New York, the top Democrat on the House Administration Committee, urged his colleagues on the floor during Wednesday’s debate to vote against the bill, saying it would have disastrous consequences for all American voters.

“This bill is designed to scare Americans, this bill is designed to silence Americans, this bill is designed to disenfranchise Americans,” he said. “This bill is designed to further erode the foundations of our democracy.”

However, House Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil supported the bill during a Rules Committee hearing.

“Americans have had a hard time believing in the integrity of our elections over the past few decades, and it is the responsibility of Congress to restore confidence in our election system,” said Steil, a Wisconsin Republican. “The SAVE Act will do just that.”

Louisiana Republican Majority Leader Steve Scalise called the bill “a security measure to ensure that only American citizens vote in American elections.”

Consequences of choices

Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York addressed the broader implications of the SAVE Act during Wednesday’s floor debate, with an eye to the November election and the possibility of a second term for President Joe Biden.

He said Republicans could exploit the bill “as cover, already trying to find an excuse for what might happen in November.”

Voting rights advocates have expressed concerns about the SAVE Act, saying it contains widespread misinformation and conspiracy theories that perpetuate extreme views.

At Tuesday’s press conference organized by Voice of AmericaSean Morales-Doyle of the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonprofit advocacy group for immigrants, said the bill fits into broader issues of racism and xenophobia.

“It is also a very harmful lie with a hidden agenda: to create grounds for questioning the true election results in the future,” he said.

One House member likened the bill to a “Jim Crow voter tax” during floor debate. Virginia Democrat Jennifer McClellan said she “knows of no citizenship document that doesn’t cost an individual money to obtain.”

Wesley Hunt, a Texas Republican, responded that “Jim Crow is over.”

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