Democrats scramble to oppose GOP-backed bill requiring proof of citizenship in federal elections

The House is set to vote next week on the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility Act (SAVE), which would require proof of citizenship to vote in federal elections.

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House Democrats are mobilizing against a Republican-sponsored bill that seeks to require voters to prove US citizenship to vote in federal elections. This comes as election laws have come under greater scrutiny as well as an influx of illegal immigrants under President Joe Biden. 

The House is set to vote next week on the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility Act (SAVE), which mandates "documentary proof of United States citizenship" for voting in federal elections. Acceptable forms of proof would include a photo ID card proving someone was born in the US, a passport, or a birth certificate. 

The proposed legislation also calls for the removal of all non-citizens from voter registration rolls. It requires election officials to request proof of citizenship from voter registration applicants and to inform them of the legal consequences of failing to provide such proof. 

In response to the GOP’s efforts, House Democrats are attempting to unite against the legislation. House Minority Whip Katherine Clark's office had told House Democrats that they are “urged to VOTE NO” on the bill, according to Axios. Clark’s office argued that the bill would prevent Americans from registering to vote using only their driver's license and would make a passport the "only acceptable standalone form of identification." 

The bill allows for a passport, military ID, a federal or state government issued ID paired with a birth certificate, and other forms of identification.  

Clark’s office contends that the bill would create an "extreme burden for countless Americans" and "further intimidate election officials and overburden states' abilities to enroll new voters." The calls for proof of citizenship to vote in federal elections have continued among Republicans who say that past elections have included the votes of non-citizens. 

House Speaker Mike Johnson stated in a thread that the SAVE Act will “safeguard our elections by ensuring only American citizens vote in federal elections.” Johnson's office also released a 22-page report justifying the SAVE Act, pointing out a loophole in the current law where voters can simply attest to their citizenship instead of being directly asked.  

The report also pointed to numerous examples of non-citizens being removed from voter rolls, including 137 in Ohio and 1,481 in Virginia. 

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