Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., introduced legislation earlier this week ensuring that only eligible U.S. citizens are able to vote in federal elections.
Titled the “NO VOTE for Non-Citizens Act of 2023,” the proposed bill includes amendments to the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and 2002 Help America Vote Act that seek to clarify states’ authority in maintaining federal voter registration lists and establish that federal election funding cannot be “used to support States that permit non-citizens to cast ballots in any election.”
Under the NVRA, states are required to “ensur[e] the maintenance of an accurate and current voter registration roll for elections for Federal office.” The current version of the law, however, only refers to “eligible voters” and does not include a provision about citizenship requirements.
While the Constitution and federal law stipulate that only U.S. citizens can vote in federal elections, several Democrat-led cities in states such as Maryland and California have adopted measures in recent years permitting the practice for their respective municipal elections. In October, for instance, Washington, D.C. passed legislation granting foreign nationals the ability to vote in the district’s local elections. House Republicans’ efforts to revoke the law have been blocked by Senate Democrats.
“Since the Constitution prohibits non-citizens from voting in Federal elections, such ineligible persons must not be permitted to be placed on Federal voter registration lists,” the NO VOTE for Non-Citizens Act reads.
In order to ensure noncitizens aren’t voting in federal elections, Griffith’s bill includes a provision requiring states that permit localities to allow noncitizen voting in their respective elections to place such non-citizens on a voter registration list “separate from the official list of eligible voters with respect to registrants who are citizens of the United States.” The measure further mandates “the ballot used for the casting of votes by a noncitizen in such State or local jurisdiction may only include the candidates for the elections for public office in the State or local jurisdiction for which the noncitizen is permitted to vote.”
While Congress does not possess the authority to manage state and local elections, it can control federal funding that is allocated to these jurisdictions for the purposes of election administration. Griffith’s bill seeks to utilize this authority by reducing any federal payments issued to a state or locality that permits noncitizen voting by 30 percent and prohibiting them from using funds for certain “election administration activities.”
“One of the rights and privileges granted in the U.S Constitution is an American citizen’s ability to vote in our country’s federal elections,” Griffith said in a statement. “If non-citizens are allowed to vote in our federal elections, it could invite foreign interference and dilute the voice of American citizens. The NO VOTE for Non-Citizens Act upholds Americans’ right to vote, preserving our great democracy.”