‘Clear and Real Threat’: Johnson Backs SAVE Act to End Non-Citizens Voting in U.S. Elections

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives will vote on a bill to reverse “the ease with which illegal aliens can register and vote in our elections, including in every single swing state,” said Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) on a video conference call attended by The Washington Stand.

The House will vote on the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act, which requires states to verify that only U.S. citizens can register or vote in U.S. elections. The bill requires applicants to show proof of citizenship and grants states access to federal databases that can verify citizenship. It also orders the Department of Homeland Security to determine whether to initiate removal proceedings if a non-citizen unlawfully attempts to register to vote.

The bill attempts to fix a problem created by the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), often dubbed the “Motor-Voter Law.” The bill, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, requires officials to offer to register those who apply for a driver’s license. While federal law says only U.S. citizens should register, a 2013 Supreme Court opinion held that “the NVRA forbids [s]tates to demand that an applicant submit additional information beyond that required by the [f]ederal [f]orm.”

The form asks applicants to swear on penalty of perjury that they are U.S. citizens — but requires no proof whatsoever.

“In effect, this law, the NVRA, requires states to use the honors system,” Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd (R) told TWS. “There’s no mechanism to ensure that only those registering or voting are citizens,” Speaker Johnson told The Washington Stand. With the SAVE Act, “we can assure American citizens that their vote isn’t going to be canceled out by a non-citizen,” said Byrd.

“The purpose here was basically to mirror the existing language in the NVRA,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), in response to a question asked by TWS, the only question asked during the video call. “We’re just literally amending existing law” to underline and facilitate the states’ responsibility to safeguard election integrity.

Speaker Johnson released a 22-page report late last month documenting the reality of non-citizens registering to vote, and actually voting, in U.S. elections, “As of May 2023, Virginia Department of Elections officials have removed 1,481 registrations,” said the report, and 23% had cast a ballot.

Non-citizens already legally vote in several areas nationwide. “A number of localities are blurring the lines of citizenship by allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections,” said Johnson. Cities and municipalities that allow non-citizens to vote legally include:

  • Oakland, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Burlington, Vermont
  • Montpelier, Vermont
  • Barnesville, Maryland
  • Cheverly, Maryland
  • Chevy Chase (Section 3), Maryland
  • Garrett Park, Maryland
  • Glen Echo, Maryland
  • Hyattsville, Maryland
  • Martin’s Additions, Maryland
  • Mount Rainier, Maryland
  • Riverdale Park, Maryland
  • Somerset, Maryland
  • Takoma Park, Maryland
  • Winooski, Vermont

“We are extremely grateful that the speaker of the House has taken it on himself to push this bill and say this is a significant problem,” said Election Integrity Network founder and Only Citizens Vote Coalition co-founder Cleta Mitchell, which hosted the call.

Speaker Johnson called the issue of non-citizens voting in the United States “a very clear and real threat” to U.S. election integrity. “We know that President Biden and his policies have invited more than 8.6 million illegals into the United States in three years. In fact, I’ve been on the record saying I think the number is more than 16 million.” When Border Patrol agents add in “gotaways,” they safely estimate a total of 10 million illegal border crossings during the Biden administration — more than the population of 41 states. To make matters worse, Johnson told TWS that Border Patrol agents revealed they are not permitted to count all gotaways, unless they “have clear sight and vision of them” fleeing into U.S. territory.

Yale University researchers estimated the total number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. at 16 to 29 million, in 2016.

“Democrats have said they want to make non-citizens voters. We have them on tape,” Johnson told TWS. Democrats, including Democratic socialist organizers, have long described amnesty for the illegal immigrants as the best mechanism to “create a governing coalition for the long-term.”

“The reason why they’ve got that wide-open border is so they can get as many illegals in here and get them to vote, so they can dominate the American vote,” Rep. Mike Ezell (R-Miss.) told “Washington Watch” guest host Jody Hice on Tuesday. “They want to dominate the House, the Senate and the White House. They want to get elected by any means necessary,” even “going against the rules,” Ezell told Hice.

After such an influx of lawless immigration, coupled with indifference to the citizenship of voter applicants, “among the other remedial measures we have to take, [the SAVE Act] is the most obvious one,” Johnson told TWS.

“Election integrity is a cornerstone to this country,” Ezell told Hice.

The bill enjoys strong support nationwide. A recent poll commissioned by Tea Party Patriots found 87% of all Americans, including more than three-quarters of Democrats, believe people should show proof of U.S. citizenship before registering to vote. Similarly, a bipartisan coalition of more than 500 state elected officials have signed a letter from the State Freedom Caucus supporting the SAVE Act.

Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd (R) noted that in 2020, Florida amended its state constitution to say only a citizen can be eligible to vote with 80% support. “We can’t get 80% to agree if it’s night or day,” Byrd told TWS. “It has broad bipartisan support.”

Yet the Biden administration announced on Monday that the administration “strongly opposes” the bill, because “it is extraordinarily rare for noncitizens to break the law by voting in [f]ederal elections.”

“It is already illegal for noncitizens to vote in [f]ederal elections — it is a [f]ederal crime punishable by prison and fines. The alleged justification for this bill is based on easily disproven falsehoods,” Biden asserted. “Additionally, making a false claim of citizenship or unlawfully voting in an election is punishable by removal from the United States and a permanent bar to admission,” said Biden, who effectively ended deportations early in his term.

Biden’s statement implied he would refuse to take any action related to the border until the House Republicans submit to his agenda. “If House Republicans really want to do something about securing our border and fixing our broken immigration system, they should vote on the border deal that the [p]resident negotiated,” which would facilitate the entry of millions of non-citizens into the United States but do little to provide border security.

Biden and his fellow Democrats oppose the SAVE Act and “want to try to kill it, because they don’t believe in American sovereignty,” Roy told TWS.

Some members of the House seem “bent on destroying this country,” Ezell said. “As long as I’m breathing, I’m … going to continue to stand for the American people and do what’s right in the eyes of God. That’s my stand.”

AUTHOR

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This The Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

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