Biden Officially Rejects GOP-Led Effort to Tighten Voter Registration Rules

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President Joe Biden has opposed the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act, which requires proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote in federal elections.

Why It Matters

Ensuring the integrity of elections and preventing non-citizens from voting is crucial for maintaining the nation’s democratic processes.

Who It Impacts

This affects U.S. citizens, legal immigrants, election officials, and policymakers focused on election integrity and voter registration.

President Joe Biden has formally opposed a congressional bill that would require individuals to show proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote in federal elections. The bill, known as the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act, was introduced by Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) and is set for a vote in the Republican-led House soon. Although the Biden administration strongly opposes the bill, it has not yet mentioned the possibility of a veto.

The Biden administration’s policy statement highlighted that it is already illegal for non-citizens to vote in federal elections, a federal crime punishable by prison and fines. “The alleged justification for this bill is based on easily disproven falsehoods,” the statement read. The administration emphasized that making a false claim of citizenship or unlawfully voting results in severe penalties, including removal from the U.S. and a permanent bar to admission.

Further, the administration asserted that states already have effective measures to verify voter eligibility and maintain accurate voter rolls. The statement argued that the SAVE Act would not safeguard elections but instead make it harder for eligible Americans to register to vote, increasing the risk of purging eligible voters from voter rolls.

Republicans have advocated for the SAVE Act, asserting it is necessary to address the ongoing border crisis and ensure election integrity. The bill also aims to remove non-citizens from voter rolls for federal office upon receipt of documentation or verified information indicating a registrant is not a U.S. citizen. Some municipalities in various states and Washington, D.C., allow non-citizens to vote in local elections, which has fueled the debate.

Rep. Chip Roy emphasized the current federal prohibition on states verifying citizenship status during voter registration for federal elections. “The SAVE Act requires proof of citizenship to register and would remove non-citizens from voter rolls. What are Democrats fearful of? This is basic stuff, you would think,” Roy posted on X.

House Democrat leaders have urged opposition to the bill, arguing it would prevent Americans from registering to vote using their driver’s licenses alone, making passports the only acceptable standalone form of identification. They contended that the bill would create extreme burdens for many Americans and further intimidate election officials while overburdening states’ abilities to enroll new voters.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) released a report supporting the SAVE Act, warning of a loophole in the National Voter Registration Act that does not require states to ask for proof of citizenship when registering an individual to vote in federal elections. Instead, it relies on individuals to attest they are citizens and eligible to vote. The report also cited evidence of non-citizens on voter rolls in various states.

The Biden administration maintains that current laws preventing non-citizen voting are effective, with instances of non-citizens voting in federal elections being extraordinarily rare. The statement reiterated Biden’s commitment to protecting Americans’ right to vote in free, fair, and secure elections. The administration also urged Congress to consider Democrat-led bills on voting practices and called on the House GOP to vote on a bipartisan border deal, which has struggled to gain traction.