In a significant move towards preserving election integrity, the GOP-led House of Representatives voted to overturn a bill that would grant noncitizens the right to vote in District of Columbia elections. The bill was passed by the D.C. Council last year and lowered the voting qualifications to just one month of residency, regardless of U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status. The House voted 260-173 to repeal the bill, with 42 Democrats joining the Republicans.
The bill is still slated for a vote in the Democrat-led Senate and review by Joe Biden as president. The Constitution gives Congress the power to block laws in the District. Biden has publicly stated that he opposes the bill but has not definitively said he will veto it.
If the bill becomes law, it is estimated that around 50,000 noncitizen residents, including 21,000 illegal immigrants, would be eligible to vote in D.C.’s municipal elections. The law would allow foreign nationals, including Russian and Chinese diplomats, to alter the makeup of D.C.’s city council and Board of Education and vote on important initiatives and referendums.
Honest Elections Project Action executive director Jason Snead praised the vote by the House. He said it is necessary to prevent “foreign spies and illegal immigrants” from voting in the nation’s capital. Snead also criticized the D.C. Council, calling the bill “wildly out of touch with the views of most Americans” and “anti-democratic.”
Civil Rights Attorney and Independent Women’s Forum Visiting Fellow Maya Noronha pointed out the high costs associated with the bill. She said those are estimated to be over $3 million and warned that D.C. would likely “demand a bailout from the rest of the taxpayers around the country” to foot the bill.
A 2016 report by the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor found that D.C.’s election system already has significant problems, including failure to clean voter rolls, which left deceased and duplicate residents on the lists.
The House also voted against D.C.’s revised criminal code, which decreased penalties for violent crimes and reduced mandatory minimum sentences. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) condemned the two bills, saying that they would “dilute the vote of American citizens and endanger city residents and visitors.”
Most Americans will see the vote by the House as a positive step towards protecting election integrity and preserving the rights of American citizens, especially as the left continues to push for a federal takeover of election administration and further erosion of election security measures such as voter ID.