More than 500 noncitizens registered to vote in DC Council elections Tuesday despite House reckoning

More than 500 noncitizens are registered to vote in Tuesday’s Washington, D.C., Council elections.

As of May 29, which is the latest available count, 523 noncitizen Washington, D.C., residents are registered to vote, Sarah Graham, a spokeswoman for the District of Columbia Board of Elections (DCBOE), told Fox News Digital. 

That includes 310 registered Democrats, 28 Republicans, 16 with the D.C. Statehood Green Party, and 169 unaffiliated noncitizen voters who are registered with no party, Graham said. 

Graham said the DCBOE does not collect data on the nationalities of noncitizen voters, but The Washington Post spoke to noncitizen voters from El Salvador, Iran and Ethiopia. 

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Just days before the June 4 Washington, D.C., primary, 52 House Democrats voted with Republicans on a bill to overturn a 2022 Washington, D.C., law that allows noncitizens to vote in local elections. Though it is unclear if the Democrat-controlled Senate will take on the legislation, the margin of House Democrats who supported the bill increased from the 42 who voted to strike down the law last year. 

The House Administration Committee has held two hearings in recent weeks dedicated to discussing how noncitizen voting impacts confidence in American elections and risks possible foreign interference. 

 “The D.C. Board of Elections recently confirmed that nearly 500 non-citizens have registered to vote in our nation’s capital, and that number is only growing. Early voting for D.C. primary election is happening right now. And as we sit here today, non-citizens are voting to elect members of the D.C. City Council. That’s absurd,” Chairman Bryan Steil, R-Wis., said during his opening statement last week. 

“We must do two things. One, we cannot allow the D.C. citizens voting law to spread across the United States,” he said. “And two, we need to ensure non-citizens aren’t voting in federal elections across the United States. While it’s illegal today for non-citizens to vote in our federal elections, it’s also illegal to evade border patrol and unlawfully enter the country. And as we’ve seen, that hasn’t stopped anyone.” 

During early voting for the D.C. Council primary, 6,051 people have already voted in person at polling sites across the district, 27,734 mail-in ballots have been received via the U.S. Postal Service and another 18,492 ballots have been received by drop box, according to the latest figures posted on the DCBOE website. 

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As of April 30, 450,750 people were registered to vote in the nation’s capital. 

The numbers are tallied monthly, so the latest data available is from April, Graham explained, since May ended four days ago, and the Washington, D.C., Council elections are happening Tuesday. 

Last year, Abel Amene, an Ethiopian immigrant, became the first noncitizen elected to public office in Washington, D.C. Amene ran unopposed as Ward 4’s advisory neighborhood commissioner. 

“I like to say that non-citizen voting is actually as American as apple pie. It’s been happening for centuries as part of the fabric of America,” Amene claimed in an interview with WUSA last week. “We pay taxes. I could be drafted, so I’m not really sure where the controversy is around. We can’t participate in federal elections. All we want to vote for is our ANCs and our council members.”

Another noncitizen voter, Shaghayegh Chris Rostampour, who moved to the U.S. from Iran in 2018 for graduate school at Brandeis University, and then moved to Washington, D.C., for work after that, argued that illegal immigrants who register to vote in local elections wouldn’t take the risk of breaking the law to vote at the federal level. 

“A person who is either a student and on a visa or on a work visa, or is on the path to citizenship or has applied for asylum or is undocumented, wouldn’t really risk registering it when it’s illegal to vote in federal elections and risk, everything that they’ve done, risk, all the sacrifices that they’ve made to cast a vote a ballot that would not be counted,” Rostampour said in an interview with WUSA.

At last week’s hearing, Steil argued that letting noncitizens vote in local elections will “continue to create challenges for states to maintain clean voter rolls.” The chairman said the committee discovered a week earlier that 137 noncitizens were on the voter roll in Ohio and cited how Virginia removed 1,481 noncitizens from their voter rolls in May 2023. 

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