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Calling Out the Game: The Larger Motivations Behind GOP Push on Non-Citizen Voting

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Washington, DC House Republicans are set to hold a committee hearing and are readying legislation to tackle the made-up problem of non-citizens voting in federal elections. As numerous fact checkers have highlighted, it’s a virtually non-existent issue with strong safeguards and penalties already in place to protect election integrity. 

So, what explains Republicans’ focus and priority attention – a pet project of the House Speaker and top Leadership? As America’s Voice has highlighted, the lie of non-citizens voting and other anti-immigrant conspiracies are part of a larger strategy that lays the groundwork for stoking fear among the MAGA base, opening the door to voting restrictions for eligible voters, delegitimizing the democratic process and amplifying the idea that immigrants are being lured to the United States by nefarious elites to undermine the country. All of it justifying real world political violence, from the steps of the Capitol to American communities like Buffalo, which two years ago this week witnessed a horrific mass murder tied to anti-immigration conspiracy theories. 

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director at America’s Voice:

“Republicans are once again creating a solution where no problem exists. Right-wing lies about non-citizen voting and the related mainstreaming of ‘replacement’ and ‘invasion’ conspiracies are all connected to Trump and allies’ anti-democratic push and attempts to delegitimize our election outcomes and justify January 6th and related new threats of political violence. The fact-checking and debunking of the lie that non-citizen voting is a major issue is an important first step, but we need to also call out the game and understand the larger context and GOP motivations at play.”

Key voices are also calling out the GOP game and adding important correctives and larger context about the real motivations and larger significance:

  • Los Angeles Times column from Jackie Calmes, “Our elections have integrity. These politicians do not,”: “Policy isn’t the point, however; politics is. This gambit is a two-fer for firing up Republican voters: It plays to their anti-immigrant fervor and election fraud myths … ‘That is the design, I think, of why they opened the border,’ Johnson said on CNBC, mimicking Trump’s rally rhetoric. ‘To turn them into voters.’ That just ain’t so, and Johnson knows it — I give him that much credit. Noncitizens aren’t voting. U.S. elections aren’t rigged. Voter fraud is vanishingly rare. Republicans who tell you differently are lying. And we all know, intuitively, why.”
  • Marcela García column in The Boston Globe, “Noncitizen voting is already illegal in federal elections. Here’s why Republicans are still pushing the issue.”: “…focusing on noncitizen voting also lays the groundwork for a potential attempt at delegitimizing the November election should President Biden win. It’s a way to preemptively assert that voter fraud will occur. Indeed, casting doubt on the election is a fundamental part of the Trump playbook … Lastly, perpetuating the myth of illegal noncitizen voting may also discourage eligible Americans from casting their ballots … Make no mistake, that’s the ultimate coup for Republicans: To suppress legal voting.”
  • Johnson’s ‘intuition’ clashes with data on illegal voting,” by Rebecca Beitsch and Rafael Bernal in The Hill: “The GOP unveiled a bill last week to bar noncitizens from voting in federal elections — prohibiting something that’s already illegal to address a problem lawmakers can’t prove exists. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) was candid last week in telling reporters that Republicans are motivated by intuition in seeking another law that would limit voting to U.S. citizens … ‘Well, the thing is, we actually do have the numbers, and we know that noncitizens don’t vote illegally in detectable numbers, let alone in large numbers,’ said Eliza Sweren-Becker, a senior counsel in the Voting Rights & Elections Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, pointing to a study reviewing data from 42 different jurisdictions. ‘The Brennan Center study from the 2016 general election showed an estimated 30 incidents of suspected — not confirmed — noncitizen votes out of 23.5 million, which is 0.0001 percent of the votes cast. So the Speaker’s intuition is incorrect,’ she told The Hill.”