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Not A Single Democrat Witness In Congress Agreed Only Citizens Should Vote In Federal Elections

Witnesses testify at Senate Judiciary Hearing
Image CreditScreenshot//Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

None of Democrats’ witnesses in a congressional hearing Tuesday could say resolutely that they believe only citizens should be able to vote in a federal election.

During a Senate Judiciary Hearing on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee asked the witnesses to provide a basic “yes” or “no” answer to a series of questions about non-citizens voting.

“Do you believe that only citizens of the United States should be able to vote in federal elections?” Lee asked each of the witnesses.

“We don’t have a position about non-citizens voting in federal elections, we believe that’s what the current laws are, and so we’re certainly fighting for everyone who is eligible under current law to vote,” Executive Director of The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Damon T. Hewitt said.

“That’s a decision of the state law but I want to emphasize –” President of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project Lydia Camarillo said.

“It’s a decision of state law as to who should vote in federal elections?” Lee interjected.

“States decide who gets to vote in various elections, and in federal elections I believe that we should be encouraging people to naturalize and then vote,” Camarillo said.

“Okay but you’re saying that the federal government should have no say in who votes in a federal election?” Lee pressed.

“I don’t have a position on that,” Camarillo responded.

Director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project Sophia Lin Lakin told Lee, “Federal law prohibits non-citizens from voting in federal elections and our focus is on enabling all eligible voters to be able to vote and cast their ballot.”

Only two witnesses, counsel at Public Interest Legal Foundation Maureen Riordan and Manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation Hans von Spakovsky said they do not believe non-citizens should be able to vote. Both were Republican witnesses.

Lee then asked all the witnesses whether “people registering to vote should provide documentary proof of their citizenship in order to register to vote.” Hewitt replied the real question is how asking people to provide proof of citizenship affects them.

“I think your first question kind of answers the second. Based upon the applicable rules, federal or state elections, what have you, we know we have to follow those rules. The question is what is the impact of those rules?” He said in response.

Camarillo called the question “redundant” and said, “It’s already being asked.”

Current federal law stipulates voters must simply check on a form that they are a U.S. citizen, but they do not have to provide any proof.

Lakin flat-out argued asking people to prove they are U.S. citizens to vote amounts to discrimination: “Documentary proof of citizenship or requirements are often discriminatory,” she said.

Riordan and Spakovsky agreed voters should be required to prove they are citizens. Lee said he was troubled that not every witness could simply answer “yes” to both of his questions.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Act seeks to federalize all elections by stripping states and local jurisdictions from making changes to their elections without approval from federal bureaucrats. If the legislation is passed, the U.S. Justice Department could essentially take over an election if its left-wing allies claim minority voters are being harmed by something as simple as requiring an ID or proving citizenship to vote.

A federal judge recently ruled Arizona’s law requiring individuals to prove U.S. citizenship in order to vote in a statewide election is not discriminatory and could proceed after leftists lodged a series of suits.

“Arizona’s interests in preventing non-citizens from voting and promoting public confidence in Arizona’s elections outweighs the limited burden voters might encounter when required to provide” proof of citizenship, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled.

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