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House passes voter integrity measure

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., right, and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., conduct a news conference at the Republican National Committee after a meeting with Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump and the House Republican Conference on Thursday, June 13, 2024. Tom Williams/Pool via The Associated Press

House passes voter integrity measure

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility Act, or SAVE Act, by a 221-198 vote, continuing Republican efforts to shore up election integrity efforts ahead of the 2024 November elections.

Five Democrats voted with Republicans to pass the bill.

“House Republicans Believe that only Americans should vote in American elections. House Democrats have now proven they believe that illegal aliens should vote in American elections,” U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson said in a statement following the vote.

Only citizens may legally vote in federal elections. But under the National Voter Registration Act, or NVRA, states must also give residents the opportunity to register to vote using the information they submit when they apply for a driver’s license. Most driver’s license applications do not require proof of citizenship—merely an affirmation of such a status.

Republicans led by U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson argue that burdens states with upholding a standard they lack the tools to enforce.

The SAVE Act would modify the NVRA to require proof of citizenship before states register voters to participate in federal elections. If a registrant cannot provide proof of citizenship, states would allow alternate verification methods supported by the signed affidavit of a state official.

The bill also would require states to create programs dedicated to weeding out noncitizen registrants in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security. Finally, the act would expand the punishment for noncitizen voter fraud to state officials who assist in fraudulent registration, resulting in up to five years behind bars.

Does the bill stand a chance of becoming law? Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the Senate Majority Leader, has not said whether he intends to take up the bill.

Democrats have characterized the SAVE Act as a Republican-led effort to restrict voter participation and further stoke conspiratorial doubts about American election integrity. They argue that by raising the bar, lawmakers risk losing the contributions of voters with limited access to proof of citizenship—predominantly lower income citizens or voters with disabilities­—while capitulating to messaging from former President Donald Trump.

Trump has contended that election interference in 2020 prevented him from winning reelection against President Joe Biden.

Republicans fiercely dispute Democrats' objections to the measure, arguing that a more secure election only encourages would-be voters by ensuring fair results with a reduced chance of interference or election fraud.

Dig deeper: Read my reporting on why Republicans have made the SAVE Act a key component to their voter integrity efforts.

Leo Briceno

Leo is a WORLD politics reporter based in Washington, D.C. He’s a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and has a degree in political journalism from Patrick Henry College.


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