More than 50 Dems vote for House GOP bill to repeal DC law letting noncitizens vote

The House of Representatives advanced a bill Thursday to repeal a Washington, D.C. law that allows noncitizens to vote in local elections.

A whopping 52 Democrats joined Republicans on the measure, with 143 Democrats voting against it, for a final 262 to 143 vote.

The D.C. law was passed by the progressive city council in 2022 and recently survived a court challenge earlier this year.

Republicans who opposed the bill warned that allowing non-Americans to help decide what local officials run the nation’s capital could have negative effects on national security. 

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“What we’re doing is, we are talking about passing a law that prohibits citizens of foreign countries from voting in elections in D.C. It prohibits people that are here illegally from voting in elections. It prohibits spies from China from voting in elections. It prohibits people that are here from Russia that have wishes of ill will in the United States from voting in the elections in D.C.,” Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., said during debate for the bill.

GOP lawmakers have also accused Democrats of trying to tip the scales at the ballot box by encouraging illegal immigrants to sign up to vote – something the left has denied.

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“It would, of course, be crazy for an undocumented person to attach their name to a public and transparent document like a voter registration document…we were not able to find any evidence that there were any undocumented people doing so,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. “In other words, the district’s use of this practice for local elections and local government functions appears to be in accord with the way it’s always been used, which is for permanent residents who are part of the community, who are on the pathway to citizenship.”

Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, who introduced the bill last year, emphasized the close margins that critical elections have been won by in recent years. He argued that allowing even the chance for undocumented people to vote could sway an entire race.

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“They’re encouraging people to vote for mayor, for attorney general, for members of the state Board of Education and more. And some may argue that, yes, these are just local elections. Well, there are democratic elections that regularly determine taxation, the criminal code…and the election of the various city council members who decide ordinances like who gets to vote. Not to mention that many of these are decided by close margins,” Pfluger said.

It’s the latest effort in a wider crackdown on voting security that House GOP leaders are mounting roughly six months before the November 2024 elections. 

The House-wide vote on D.C.’s local law comes on the same day that a key House committee is poised to advance a bill to heighten enforcement and penalties for undocumented people who vote in federal elections. 

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