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Americans Worked Too Hard For Equal Voting Rights For Noncitizens To Disenfranchise Us

The SAVE Act is what is needed to guarantee that the government takes an active role in ensuring only citizens vote.


The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) states it is unlawful for noncitizens to vote in federal elections. It is also unlawful to steal a car. That is what locks are for.

Until the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility Act (SAVE Act) of 2024 was proposed, the NVRA had no locks — no way to ensure that only American citizens vote in U.S. elections.

The glaring loophole in current voting law is that it does not require documentary proof of citizenship for registration. There is also no specific authority provided to state secretaries of state or local elections officials to access federal databases to confirm that there are no noncitizens on state voter rolls. 

The SAVE Act is designed to cure these deficiencies.

A House Floor vote on the Congressional SAVE Act (H.R. 8281) is scheduled for Wednesday, July 10. Sponsored by Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, the legislation closes the loophole in federal law that enables foreign nationals — noncitizen resident aliens and illegal immigrants — to register to vote.

The U.S. is experiencing a massive wave of illegal immigrants due to the Biden administration’s seemingly deliberate abandonment of any reasonable form of border protection. We have nearly 22 million noncitizens (legal and illegal) living in our country, and that number is climbing. Public debate about noncitizen voting is rightly focused on illegal immigrants and the willingness of state agencies (particularly DMVs) to register anyone to vote as long as they are breathing.

But this story has another angle yet undiscussed — what does history tell us about who noncitizen voting disrespects and insults the most?

In the first U.S. presidential election in 1789, only white male landowners were able to cast a vote. African Americans, women, and naturalized citizens did not enjoy that same automatic and safe path to the ballot box. And now, in 2024, noncitizen voting threatens to steal the political voices of citizen voters who had to fight to get to the ballot box.

The right to vote for African American men did not come until 1868 and 1870 under the 14th and 15th Amendments, but casting those votes was not just fraught with danger and blatant racism for former slaves, but for future generations of black Americans. Disgraceful Jim Crow laws that kept blacks from voting through poll taxes, literacy tests, beatings, and even mass killings are a shameful part of our history that was not fully addressed until the passage and enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Women in America also had to fight for the right to vote. The American suffragist movement was led predominantly by fearless Republican-associated women – black and white. Many of their names remain an honored part of our history – Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

They were the subject of ridicule, mockery, and even beatings before earning the right to vote in 1919 under the 19th Amendment after a nearly century-long fight, and to the chagrin of Democrat President Woodrow Wilson who thought their efforts “obnoxious.”

Today’s new voters find the path to naturalization expensive, time-consuming, and frustrating. Our country has approximately 24 million naturalized citizens, and in 2023, just over 878,000 new citizens took their Oath of Allegiance. Many are from war-torn or despotic countries offering no chance for prosperity and liberty, and they worked hard to get here through legal channels. They hold their citizenship responsibilities dear and take them seriously.

Total government fees alone to become a citizen approach $4,000 a person. On top of that, there is no government answer to how long the process takes other than at least five years of residency before application. Ask any recently naturalized citizen about the process and they would note it can take over a decade, thousands of dollars (often including immigration attorney fees), and endless frustrating calls to the government’s “we can’t be bothered to answer” line.

It is indisputable that foreign nationals are being unlawfully added to the voter rolls through Motor Voter at state DMVs and other registration drives. President Biden’s Executive Order 14019 demands that agencies amp up their voter registration efforts for anyone seeking federal government assistance — with no carve out for illegal immigrants.

Based on Census information and current noncitizen statistics, some researchers estimate that “roughly 1.0 million to 2.7 million non-citizens will illegally vote in the 2024 presidential and congressional elections unless stronger election integrity measures are implemented.”

Could unlawful foreign citizens’ ballots skew election results? Maybe. Placed in strategically important voting jurisdictions, yes. But in the current national debate about noncitizen voting, we cannot forget the critical role the past holds.

Hard-earned votes should not be negated by unlawful ones. It’s not a question of math. It’s a question of integrity, national sovereignty, common sense, and civil rights.

America doesn’t always get it right at the start gate. Full voting rights for all Americans took centuries. But eventually, we course corrected. Full, unfettered access to the ballot box for all citizen voters is now available.

Noncitizens’ unlawful votes would stomp on that progress and the suffering that went with it. Even one citizen’s political voice silenced by a fraudulent vote is one too many. The SAVE Act is what is needed to guarantee that the government takes an active role in ensuring only citizens vote. 

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