After San Francisco voted to allow non-citizens to vote in school-board elections, as of November, many began to wonder what citizenship means in the United States.
That question was to put to 428 House members on Sept. 26 in the form of House Resolution 1071, with 65 percent essentially saying they agreed that “allowing illegal immigrants the right to vote devalues the franchise and diminishes the voting power of U.S. citizens.”
The measure was approved with 279 ayes and 72 nos, mostly along party lines; 49 Democrats voted in favor of the resolution. Another 69, all Democrats, voted “present” while another eight—four Democrats and four Republicans—were nonvoters.
Put another way, 37 percent of all Democrats voted against it, while less than half of a percent—just one individual—of Republicans did.
“In this country, the right to vote is reserved exclusively for United States citizens,” Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) tweeted after the vote. “Allowing those who are here illegally the right to vote in American elections would be nothing short of an affront to the very principles upon which our nation was built.”
Of those who replied to The Epoch Times’ request for comment about why they voted against it, most said they saw it as a political ploy to make Democrats looks bad before the midterms.
“This bill does not come to the floor in a vacuum. The midterms are coming and Republicans will try to pass whatever they can before they lose and pass the gavel to a new Speaker,” said Rep. Luis Guitierrez (D-Ill.)
However, at least one of the naysayers defended his vote by saying that people who aren’t citizens but pay taxes should have the right to vote.
“If you pay taxes just like every other American, and you send your child to public school, you should have a say over the services you are directly funding and utilizing, such as your community’s public education system,” the press secretary for Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) said in an email.
Similar to San Francisco; Mount Ranier, Washington state; and College Park and Takoma Park in Maryland allow non-residents to vote in municipal elections, as do cities in nine other states.
Still, others complained that the resolution didn’t take into account other threats to the democratic process, such as foreign entities meddling in U.S. elections.
“The resolution fails to shed light on foreign threats and Russian interference in our elections,” said Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas).
“The resolution states that it is “of paramount importance that the United States maintains the legitimacy of its elections and protects them from interference, including interference from foreign threats,” said Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on the floor. “I agree with this statement as far as it goes, but I question why the resolution makes no mention whatsoever of the greatest ‘foreign threat’ of electoral ‘interference’—namely, interference by Russia in an attempt to disrupt our democracy and sow chaos in our political and governmental system.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the sponsor of the resolution, said he introduced the measure because, in addition to diluting U.S. democracy, it’s unfair to immigrants who have gone through the legal immigration process to become citizens.
“We know so many naturalized citizens who have come here, played by the rules, and earned their citizenship,” he said. “Unfortunately, a handful of cities in our country are short-circuiting the legal path to citizenship. In the process, they are devaluing the very concept of citizenship itself. … Non-citizens voting actually dilutes the votes and voice of law-abiding Americans, including naturalized citizens.”