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Majority of House Democrats support noncitizens voting

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U.S. House Democrats overwhelmingly voted to support noncitizens voting in U.S. elections.

The House voted Thursday on a bill filed by U.S. Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, to block noncitizens from voting in District of Columbia local elections.

The bill would repeal a 2022 District of Columbia law allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections and specifically prohibit noncitizens from voting in the district’s elections.

It passed by a vote of 262-143, with 52 Democrats joining 210 Republicans supporting it.

The majority of Democrats, 143, voted against the bill. Eighteen Democrats and seven Republicans didn’t vote.

Pfluger filed the bill in January 2023 after the Washington D.C. City Council voted nearly unanimously in October 2022 to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections beginning in 2024. The Local Resident Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2022 was approved by 12 of the 13 city council members and signed into law by Mayor Muriel Bowser. It requires congressional review. It allows green-card holders and those who illegally entered or live in the U.S. to vote in local elections if they are at least 18 years old and have lived in the district for at least 30 days.

The law was advanced after the mayor declared a state of emergency over thousands of illegal foreign nationals arriving in the city, blaming the governors of Texas and Arizona for the crisis, The Center Square reported.

At the time the law was passed, roughly 51,000 noncitizens were living in D.C., according to a Migration Policy Institute estimate. The district’s population as of July 1, 2023, was nearly 680,000, according to U.S. Census data.

One attempt to block the law was made by seven D.C. residents and U.S. citizens who sued. However, in March of this year, their efforts were squashed by District Judge Amy Jackson with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She ruled that the residents who sued didn’t have standing and granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss “for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”

Two months after her ruling, Congress voted on Pfluger’s bill.

In a floor statement prior to the vote, Pfluger took issue with the D.C. City Council’s “short-sighted decision,” which he said not only allowed noncitizens “including illegal aliens and foreign agents – to vote in local D.C. elections,” but officials encouraged them to vote. He pointed to a flier being distributed throughout the district encouraging non-citizens to vote for the mayor, members of the State Board of Education, and others.

While some critics may ask what the harm is in allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections, Pfluger said they are “democratic elections that regularly determine taxation, the criminal code, and the election of the very city council members who decide ordinances like who gets the right to vote.”

It was “inconceivable” that the D.C. City Council or any city council “would intentionally dilute the voting power of their constituents (many of them from underserved communities) for noncitizens who otherwise would not meet residency requirements, don’t pay taxes, in some cases broke our laws to enter this country, and could even be employed by a foreign adversary,” he said.

“As the Capital of our democracy, D.C. ought to be leading the way in safe and secure elections – not incentivizing the exact practices our adversaries will relish.”

The House passed the bill after another election-related bill was filed by another Texas Republican.

Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, with several cosponsors, filed the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act. Citing the border crisis and the greatest number of foreign nationals illegally entering the country in U.S. history, the measure’s supporters expressed alarm that instead of being deported, many are being registered to vote, The Center Square reported.

District of Columbia City Councilwoman Brianne Nadeu, a Democrat who has championed expanding voting rights for noncitizens for nearly a decade, said noncitizens should be able to vote because “those who have made the District their home have the right for their voices to be heard in our local issues, no matter their immigration status.”

Last month, the D.C. Board of Elections held a training session to educate noncitizens on how to vote.

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