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Republicans target non-citizens on election bills

The House will vote today on a GOP bill repealing a D.C. law that allows non-citizens to vote in D.C. elections.

At the same time, the House Administration Committee will mark up a series of Republican-sponsored election bills, including one that will require voters to prove they’re U.S. citizens before being allowed to register to cast a ballot in a federal election.

With these moves, House Republicans are trying to tie together two of their favored issues — immigration and allegations of election fraud. Former President Donald Trump is pushing both in his bid to get back to the Oval Office. And Speaker Mike Johnson — who needed Trump’s help to keep his hold on the gavel — and other top House Republicans have taken up the same line.

In addition to the SAVE Act, authored by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), House Administration Committee Chair Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) has queued up a handful of other bills for today’s markup.

The Republican-drafted bills would bar non-citizens from having any administrative role in elections, ban the use of federal funds for elections in states that permit ballot harvesting and expand limits on how donations from non-Americans can be used in elections, among other things.

We’ll point out that it’s already illegal for a non-citizen to even register to vote in federal elections, much less actually vote. There’s also no evidence that this is a problem or that non-citizens have had any measurable impact on any elections anywhere at any time, despite what Johnson or Trump suggest.

But Steil — who held a hearing on this issue last week — noted there have been examples in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado and other states where non-citizens ended up on voter registration rolls. This is often through programs tied to driver’s licenses or voter registration drives. A small number of non-citizens have also cast ballots.

“It’s already illegal to cross the [U.S.] border,” Steil said in an interview. “We’re trying to preserve the integrity of the process.”

Yet Rep. Joe Morelle (N.Y.), top Democrat on House Administration, sees another angle here that could be a replay of the false claims over the 2020 elections.

Morelle suggested that “It’s more insidious in my view. I believe this is the setting, the pretext for objecting to the 2024 election results if they lose. As we used to say as kids, heads I win, tails you lose. So this is they win either way.”

Steil didn’t have a timetable for when any of these bills would reach the floor. Democrats also argue that none of this legislation will make it through the Democratic-controlled Senate or be supported by the Biden administration.

— John Bresnahan

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.