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House passes controversial bill to ban non-citizen voting

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The Republican-controlled US House of Representatives has passed a bill aimed at barring non-citizens from registering to vote in federal elections, a practice that is already illegal.

The legislation, fueled by unfounded election fraud claims from former President Donald Trump, now faces significant opposition in the Senate.

The US House of Representatives voted 221-198 to approve the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility Act, a bill designed to prevent non-citizens from registering to vote in federal elections.

The measure, championed by Republicans and rooted in false accusations of widespread election fraud, mandates proof of U.S. citizenship for voter registration and compels states to remove suspected non-citizens from voter rolls.

The bill passage comes less than four months before the November 5th presidential election, which pits former President Donald Trump against incumbent Democratic President Joe Biden. Despite its approval in the House, the legislation faces an uphill battle in the Democratic-led Senate, where it is expected to stall.

Proponents of the bill, including House Speaker Mike Johnson, argue that it is essential to protect the integrity of U.S. elections. In a fiery floor speech, Johnson warned that failing to pass the bill would “hand over our country to illegal aliens, cartel traffickers, and violent criminals and murderers.” Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed that the 2020 election was marred by massive voter fraud, voiced strong support for the legislation.

The bill, however, has been met with staunch opposition from Democrats, who decry it as a thinly veiled attempt at voter suppression. The White House issued a statement condemning the bill, asserting that it “would do nothing to safeguard our elections” but would instead “make it much harder for all eligible Americans to register to vote and increase the risk that eligible voters are purged from voter rolls.”

Critics, including Representative Joe Morelle, the top Democrat on the House Administration Committee, argue that the bill is part of a broader effort by Republicans to undermine public confidence in the U.S. election system. “For all the hysterical rhetoric … Republicans have one real purpose here: to continue to erode the confidence of Americans in our election system,” Morelle stated.

Independent studies have consistently shown that instances of non-citizen voting are exceedingly rare. A comprehensive study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University found only 30 incidents of possible non-citizen voting out of 23.5 million votes cast in the 2016 presidential election, amounting to just 0.0001% of votes. Wendy Weiser, who directs the democracy program at the Brennan Center, labeled the bill as a “scare tactic,” emphasizing that “non-citizens cannot vote in U.S. elections” and highlighting the multiple layers of legal protections already in place.

Despite these findings, Republicans continue to cite data suggesting that non-citizens are registered to vote in some states and point to localities like New York City, Washington, D.C., and Montpelier, Vermont, where resident aliens are permitted to vote in certain local elections. They also rely on a widely discredited 2014 study that purported to show significant non-citizen voting, a study Trump has used to bolster his unsubstantiated claims about election fraud.

As the bill moves to the Senate, its future remains uncertain. What is clear, however, is that the debate over voter eligibility and election integrity will continue to be a flashpoint in American politics, especially as the country heads into another contentious election season.

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