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House voting to crack down on noncitizen voting

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson speaking at a press conference with Rep. Chip Roy (left), House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (center), and Majority Whip Tom Emmer (right) Associated Press/Photo by Kevin Wolf

House voting to crack down on noncitizen voting

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson continued pushing representatives to pass the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility Act, or SAVE Act, this week to prevent noncitizens from voting illegally in U.S. elections. Democrats have tried to mislead Americans about the government’s efforts to curb noncitizen voting, he wrote Tuesday on social media. The measure would amend the National Voter Registration Act and require citizens to present documentary proof of their citizenship beyond just a driver’s license. Over 80 percent of Americans want voter ID verification at the polls, according to bill author Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas.

The bill has found support among a swath of Republican lawmakers, including Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace, and Utah Sen. Mike Lee, to name a few. First, Democrats allowed over 8 million illegal immigrants into the country, and now they’re opposing a bill to ensure only American citizens vote in elections, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise wrote on Tuesday. Tech mogul Elon Musk also threw his support behind the bill and alleged that those who don’t support the measure are traitors.

Isn’t noncitizen voting already illegal in federal elections under the NVRA? Current law requires anyone registering to provide their social security number and driver's license or state ID. However, GOP advocates allege noncitizens can easily obtain an SSN and register.

Federal law allows asylum seekers to receive work authorization before their asylum application has been approved. If the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approves the work permit, the noncitizen applicants may also apply for and receive a social security number, according to a 22-page report from Johnson’s office. The report makes similar cases for prisoners on parole and immigrants who have overstayed their legal visa status. An SSN alone is abused as a loophole in federal law to allow noncitizen registration and voting, Johnson’s report said.

What would the SAVE Act change? The measure would require documentary proof of U.S. citizenship for voters to register federally. A passport or a photo ID with a birth certificate would suffice, according to the bill. Among other things, the bill would also:

  • Require election officials to ask about citizenship before providing voter registration forms.

  • Provide states with access to federal agency databases to purge noncitizens from voter rolls.

  • Empower states to notify the Department of Homeland Security if a noncitizen attempts to vote, enabling them to launch an investigation into whether or not to deport noncitizens caught trying to register for a federal election.

  • Require DHS to notify election officials when naturalized citizens receive the right to vote.

Noncitizens falsely claiming eligibility to vote could face fines, prison time, and deportation.

Why would lawmakers be against a measure to protect American votes? Many Democrats scoff at the measure and describe illegal voting as a nonissue. It is extraordinarily rare for noncitizens to illegally vote in federal elections, according to a White House statement. The SAVE Act would only make it harder for eligible Americans to register to vote and increase the risk of legal voters being purged from voter rolls, the statement added.

New York Rep. Joe Morelle alleged that Republicans aim to erode confidence in American elections with the SAVE Act. Republicans know that noncitizen registration and voting simply does not happen, Morelle testified on Monday. New Mexico Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez claimed the legislation would make voting harder for armed service members and newlyweds, among others.

House Minority Whip Katherine Clark, D-Mass., called on members to vote down the SAVE Act in a “whip question” released by her office. Republicans continue to irresponsibly question our election credibility despite zero evidence of widespread fraud, the statement read.

Dig deeper: Read Carolina Lumetta’s report for more on whether non–U.S. citizens are voting.

Christina Grube

Christina Grube is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

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