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“The right to vote is under attack” as Republicans in the House of Representatives pass the SAVE Act

“The right to vote is under attack” as Republicans in the House of Representatives pass the SAVE Act

Defenders of democracy said on Wednesday that the passage of a bill by Republicans in the House of Representatives requiring proof of U.S. citizenship to vote
in federal elections is an attack on the right to vote and underscores the need for comprehensive laws to protect everyone’s right to vote.

The members of the House of Representatives voted 221 to 198 for the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act, introduced by Representative Chip Roy (R-Texas). All Republicans present voted for the bill; all but five Democrats in the House opposed it.

Republicans claim the bill is intended to solve the virtually nonexistent “problem” of voter fraud by non-citizens. Critics, however, accused Republican lawmakers of having ulterior motives.

“When we say the right to vote is under attack, we’re not talking about hypotheticals. It’s under attack right here and now with this bill,” said Democratic Rep. Summer Lee of Pennsylvania before Wednesday’s vote in the House of Representatives. “Republicans want to put up barriers because people lose when they vote.”

“Let me be clear: They don’t want you to vote,” Lee added. “They don’t want to hear Black voices, Brown voices, LGBTQIA+ voices, young voices. Our basic access to our democracy is being politicized. And this xenophobic attack we’re debating today will make it harder for Americans to vote.”

Lee highlighted her recently introduced Voting Rights Act, “which would establish the first explicit federal voting rights guarantee ensuring that every citizen can exercise their fundamental right to vote.”

“This bill would enshrine people’s right to vote and prohibit governments at any level from restricting that right with bills like this,” she explained. “This bill is part of the Democrats’ Freedom to Vote Act. And along with the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, these are the kinds of bills we should be putting on the ballot, not this nonsense.”

Jonah Minkoff-Zern, co-director of the democracy campaign at consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, said in a statement, referring to presumptive 2020 Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump’s conspiracy theory: “The SAVE Act is the big lie in law.”

Minkoff-Zern attacked the Speaker of the House, a Republican from Louisiana, stressing that “extremist members of Congress like Mike Johnson are acting in bad faith to discourage people from voting. The xenophobic claims underlying this bill are not based on any actual evidence,” he continued.

“If Congress is serious about protecting democracy, it will immediately prioritize the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act — as well as the Native American Voting Rights Act and statehood for the District of Columbia — which would ensure that the voices and votes of all voters are heard in our elections,” he added. “Next week, people will join in over 80 events across the country to honor the legacy of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) by demanding action on these bills.”

In an article published on Tuesday, which refers to the far-right conspiracy theory that global elites are deliberately driving the demographic decline of the non-white population in Western countries, Washington Post Columnist Phillip Bump called the SAVE Act a “great replacement theory, now in law.”

“There is no evidence that noncitizen voting is a significant problem, let alone a regular occurrence,” Bump wrote. “The Heritage Foundation, which for years has doggedly promoted the notion that voter fraud is widespread, has a database of proven voter fraud. It contains fewer than 100 cases of noncitizen voting or voter registration since 2002 – a period in which more than 678 million votes were cast in the presidential election alone.”

The bill will make it “more difficult for people to vote,” which is “a central reason why the League of Women Voters opposes the bill,” Bump claimed. “If you require voters to bring documents with them when they register to vote, people without those documents will not register – even if they would otherwise be allowed to.”

“Who are these people? A study released in January found that those without valid driver’s licenses tend to be young and non-white,” he wrote. “In other words, they are often people who lean Democratic.”

“It’s a win-win-win situation. They demonize immigrants, spread the idea that voter fraud is prevalent, and make it harder for Democrats to vote,” Bump added. “The SAVE Act is a nice little package of Republican interests.”