House Democrats Largely Oppose ‘SAVE Act’ Requiring Proof Of Citizenship For Voting

In a significant move, 198 House Democrats voted against the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act on Wednesday, a bill designed to require proof of citizenship to register to vote in federal elections. This bill aims to prevent foreign nationals from voting in U.S. federal elections.

The SAVE Act, proposed by Republicans, mandates documented verification of citizenship as a prerequisite for voter registration, amending the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. The bill passed the House with support from 216 Republicans and five Democrats, namely Representatives Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Vicente Gonzalez Jr. (D-TX), Don Davis (D-NC), Jared Golden (D-ME), and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA). However, 198 Democrats opposed the bill, while four Republicans and ten Democrats did not participate in the vote.

Current voter registration under the 1993 law allows applicants to register to vote through state motor vehicle agencies by attesting to their citizenship status via a checkbox under the threat of perjury. Republicans argue that this system is insufficient, relying too heavily on the honor system. The Washington Times previously reported that this honor system allowed 11,198 non-citizens to vote in Pennsylvania.

House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-MA) urged Democrats to vote against the bill, arguing that voting by non-citizens is already illegal. Representative Joseph Morelle (D-NY) and Representative Terri Sewell (D-AL) echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that existing laws already prohibit non-citizens from voting in federal elections, with severe penalties for violations.

Critics of the bill argue that it would make it harder for U.S. citizens to register to vote using only their driver’s license. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) allows states to compare data from motor vehicle administration databases to newly registered voters’ information. However, both Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses can be obtained by foreign nationals, complicating the verification process.

In California, prospective voters can declare that they do not have a Social Security number or driver’s license identification number on their registration form. They are then required to show identification, which may include a credit card, gym membership, or utility bill—none of which prove citizenship.

The SAVE Act now moves to the Senate, where its future remains uncertain. Proponents argue that stricter measures are necessary to protect the integrity of American elections, while opponents contend that existing laws are sufficient and the new requirements could disenfranchise legitimate voters.

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