House Democrats Seek to Block GOP-Backed Proof-of-Citizenship Bill

A letter sent by a top Democrat previews the fight over a bill scheduled to go before the House floor this week.
House Democrats Seek to Block GOP-Backed Proof-of-Citizenship Bill
House Democratic Whip Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) speaks at an event to reintroduce the Child Care for Working Families Act at the U.S. Capitol on April 27, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips
Updated:
0:00

House Democrats are being urged by party leadership to vote against a Republican-backed measure that would require people to provide proof of U.S. citizenship to vote in federal elections, which is slated to go to the House floor this week.

A letter, issued by House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) to House Democrats, argues that the bill, known as the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act, is “irresponsibly” calling into question the validity of U.S. elections after the 2020 contest.

“There has been zero evidence” of the fraud that the bill is trying to target, her office said, adding that it is “already illegal under current law for noncitizens to register to vote or to vote in federal elections.”

Ms. Clark’s letter then said that the SAVE Act would implement onerous restrictions on voters and that the “only acceptable standalone form of identification for use in voter registration would be a passport (or passport card)” if the measure is passed.

“A REAL ID driver’s license, a Tribal ID, or a military ID would be unacceptable unless coupled with additional documentation, such as a birth certificate or an extract from a birth record that proves the applicant was born in the United States,” the Democrat whip said.

“This would be an extreme burden for countless Americans, including military voters, Native voters, people who have changed their names (including tens of millions of American women), the elderly, the young, the poor, and naturalized citizens.”

The letter also stated that senior Rep. Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.) “strongly opposes this bill as written.”

Under the measure, introduced by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), potential voters would have to provide “documentary proof of United States citizenship” to cast ballots in federal elections, including for president.

To register to vote in the elections, one would need to present identification that could include a passport, photo ID card that shows that the voter was born in the United States, or another form of photo ID along with documents that show that the person was born in the United States, including a birth certificate, according to the text of the proposed bill.

Aside from the identification requirements, the law would mandate that noncitizens be removed from voter registration rolls. Election officials would also have to ask for proof of U.S. citizenship and warn of the consequences if they aren’t citizens before providing voter registration forms.

The law would also direct the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees multiple immigration agencies, to determine if officials should initiate deportation proceedings if a noncitizen was identified as being registered to vote in federal elections, according to the text.

Last week, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) wrote in multiple social media posts that he publicly backs the measure, and his office released a report arguing in favor of the SAVE Act.
“There is irrefutable evidence that noncitizens have been illegally registering to vote and have illegally voted in U.S. elections,” the 22-page report states. The report cites a 2014 study that analyzed 2008 and 2010 elections and found that “noncitizen voting likely changed 2008 outcomes including Electoral College votes and the composition of Congress.”

It also found that noncitizen voters appeared to “favor Democratic candidates over Republican candidates” and that some noncitizens voted despite long-standing legal bans on the practice.

“Loopholes in federal law could allow noncitizens to register to vote,” Mr. Johnson’s report states, adding that Congress should pass the measure to “restore Americans’ confidence in U.S. elections.”

The Republican speaker also appeared to refute Democrats’ arguments that the bill would make it more difficult for U.S. citizens to vote in elections, writing in a post on X that a “a wide variety of documents” would be accepted for citizens to register to vote.
Some courts have already issued rulings on bills that mandate documentary proof of citizenship. In Arizona, Republican-backed measures were passed in both state houses and signed by the governor into law. A federal judge in March mostly upheld proof-of-citizenship laws for voters in federal elections.

Ms. Clark’s office didn’t respond to a request for further comment by press time.

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: https://twitter.com/jackphillips5
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