Leger Fernàndez votes against voter ID bill

The Safeguard American Voter Eligibility Act seeks to require proof of United States citizenship to register to vote in federal elections, but opponents say it would make voting more difficult for American citizens. The bill was heard during Monday’s House Rules Committee meeting where it was passed on a party line 8-to-3 vote with Republicans […]

Leger Fernàndez votes against voter ID bill

The Safeguard American Voter Eligibility Act seeks to require proof of United States citizenship to register to vote in federal elections, but opponents say it would make voting more difficult for American citizens.

The bill was heard during Monday’s House Rules Committee meeting where it was passed on a party line 8-to-3 vote with Republicans voting to approve the bill and Democrats voting against it.

Rules Committee Chairman Michael Burgess, R-Texas, alleged immigrants voted without first becoming citizens. This is a popular claim among some of the Republican Party, however the Associated Press reported that there is no evidence that noncitizens have or will vote in significant numbers in a federal election.

Rules Committee Ranking Member Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts, refuted the allegations stating they were part of former President Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him, an allegation he has maintained into his 2024 re-election campaign.

“Republicans are laying the groundwork for them to discredit the upcoming election,” McGovern said. “If they win, you’ll never hear about this until the next election. But if they lose, they will say it’s because of voter fraud. Voter fraud which, by the way, the Heritage Foundation, you know that right wing think tank that you guys always associate yourself with only (found) 24 cases of it in the last 20 years.” 

The bill seeks to require identification to vote, and would accept a form of identification issued consistent with the requirements of the REAL ID Act of 2005 that indicates the applicant is a citizen of the United States, a valid United States passport, official United States military identification card showing the voter applicant’s place of birth was in the United States, valid government-issued photo identification card issued by a federal, state or tribal government showing the voter applicant’s place of birth was in the United States, the SAVE Act states.

The Act also makes those who have changed their names, such as those who changed their name when they married and did not have their birth certificates updated ineligible to use their birth certificates as proof of citizenship.

If the voter applicant cannot show they were born in the United States, then they would have to show another form of identification such as a birth certificate, an extract from a United States hospital Record of Birth created at the time of the applicant’s birth which indicates that the applicant’s place of birth was in the United States, a final adoption decree showing the applicant’s name and that the applicant’s place of birth was in the United States; a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a citizen of the United States or a certification of the applicant’s Report of Birth of a United States citizen issued by the Secretary of State or a Naturalization Certificate or Certificate of Citizenship issued by the Secretary of Homeland Security or any other document or method of proof of United States citizenship issued by the Federal government pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, the SAVE Act states.

From March 2023: Guv signs sweeping new voting rights bill into law

Rep. Teresa Leger Fernàndez, D-New Mexico, sits on the committee and said more people voted in 2020 than in previous elections.

“Why don’t we get very excited about that, and make it easier and make sure that more Americans vote, because that is democracy,” Leger Fernàndez said. “And instead, we have this bill which would make it harder for American citizens to vote.”

Leger Fernàndez said that the SAVE Act could make it harder for military serving overseas to vote.

House Committee on Administration Ranking Member Rep. Joe Morelle, D-New York, responded that the Act would make registering to vote and, in some cases, voting burdensome due to the types of identification needed.

Morelle noted that the allegation that there was some kind of movement to register noncitizens to vote is untrue because it would “put them in harm’s way” since registering to vote as a noncitizen is already illegal.

“The problem in America is not too many people voting,” Morelle said. “It’s that participation still lags behind. I mean, when half of the eligible people in an American election vote, register and vote. I think that says a great deal. We should be making this easier for people to access the ballot, not more difficult.”

It is illegal for a noncitizen to register to vote. Those that might do so risk legal issues including deportation.

“The alleged justification for this bill is based on easily disproven falsehoods,” according to an Office of Management and Budget Statement of Administration Policy released Monday. “Additionally, making a false claim of citizenship or unlawfully voting in an election is punishable by removal from the United States and a permanent bar to admission…. This bill would do nothing to safeguard our elections, but it would make it much harder for all eligible Americans to register to vote and increase the risk that eligible voters are purged from voter rolls.”

The Committee on House Administration passed the bill in June.

Note: this story has been updated to reflect clearer definitions of acceptable forms of identification.

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