In a win for election integrity, the House of Representatives voted to overturn a D.C. law that would give noncitizens a right to vote in municipal elections Thursday.
“I applaud the House for acting to ensure that foreign spies and illegal immigrants are not voting in the nation’s capital,” Jason Snead, executive director of Honest Elections Project Action (HEPA), said in a statement regarding the vote. “Thanks to a Constitutional right and since the District is not a state, the House acted as it should have and has moved to stop this extreme and antidemocratic measure.”
According to the Constitution, Congress has the ability to block laws passed in the District. The GOP-led House voted 260-173 to overturn the new law, with 42 Democrats joining Republicans. For the law to be overturned, it must also be voted against in the Democratic-led Senate and signed by the President. While President Biden has said he opposes the law, he has not stated whether or not he will veto it.
The D.C. Council passed D.C. Bill 24.300 last year, which lowered the qualifications for voting in D.C.’s municipal elections to just one month of residency in the District, discarding the previous U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status requirement. The law goes into effect starting in 2024.
The Washington Post estimates the new law would allow 50,000 noncitizen residents to cast ballots in D.C., including 21,000 illegal residents. Even foreign nationals who pledge allegiance to another country — such as Russian and Chinese diplomats — who’ve resided in the District for just one month would have the power to change the makeup of D.C.’s city council and Board of Education, as well as vote on initiatives, referendums, recalls, and changes to the D.C. charter.
While progressives on the D.C. Council have championed the measure for racial equity purposes, the law would actually disenfranchise and dilute the votes of minority residents — born and raised in D.C., and many the descendants of slaves — who are U.S. citizens.
“The D.C. city council is pushing a measure that is wildly out of touch with the views of most Americans and is so extreme that even the Washington Post editorial staff call it ‘radical,’” Snead said. “Eighty-four percent of Americans agree that only citizens should have the right to vote. But D.C. Democrats want to run our elections like our borders and disregard safeguards that protect the integrity of the vote.”
According to Independent Women’s Forum Visiting Fellow and Civil Rights Attorney Maya Noronha, the law would also cost the city over $3 million to implement (changing voter registration applications, voter rolls, and ballot machine systems, as well as sending out a GOTV mailer to noncitizen residents encouraging them to vote), which D.C. does not have.
To foot the bill, D.C. will likely “demand a bailout from the rest of the taxpayers around the country,” Noronha writes. But D.C.’s election system already has significant problems. A 2016 report by the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor found that D.C. failed to clean its voter rolls, leaving deceased and duplicate residents on its lists.
Even if the law is not overturned, it is a good sign that the new Republican majority in the House is united in fighting for election integrity, especially as the left continues its assault on free and fair elections by orchestrating a federal takeover of election administration, banning election security measures such as voter ID, or disenfranchising American voters by allowing noncitizen residents, high schoolers, and felons to vote.
The House also voted against D.C.’s newly revised criminal code on Thursday, which decreased penalties for violent crimes and cut a majority of mandatory minimum sentences.
“A healthy republic has two basic duties: guarantee free and fair elections; and protect life, liberty, and property from violence,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said in a floor speech condemning the two laws. “Yet two new acts from the Washington, D.C. City Council would dilute the vote of American citizens and endanger city residents and visitors.”