House Passes Bill Banning Noncitizen Voting in DC Elections

( – According to the US Constitution, only American citizens can cast a ballot in federal elections. That rule doesn’t apply to municipal elections, which has led to some cities allowing noncitizens to vote. House Republicans want to change that.

On May 23, the House passed a bill, 262 to 143, to ban noncitizens from voting. The four-page bill prohibits immigrants, both legal and illegal, from voting in elections for municipal office or on referendums and ballot initiatives. The bill is a response to the DC Council approving a measure in 2022 that allows eligible noncitizen residents to vote.

The 2022 law changed the definition of what counts as a qualified elector. Republicans argued immigrants should not have the right to weigh in on who leads the US capital. Democrats attacked the GOP for the bill. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), a non-voting member of Congress, spoke on the House floor saying the effort was “undemocratic” and “paternalistic.”

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) spoke out against the city’s leadership. He said the council wants “noncitizens and foreign actors [to decide] who will serve as mayor and the local, attorney general” in the capital. He vowed Congress, the body tasked with overseeing the city, would “not support such lawless behavior.”

Seven DC residents previously sued the city’s Board of Elections. They argued the law diluted the votes of American citizens who live in DC and infringed on their right to vote. A federal court dismissed their case, telling the plaintiffs they could not prove they were harmed by the law. In their ruling, the court wrote, “their votes will not receive less weight or be treated differently than noncitizens’ votes” and they weren’t losing representation either.

A previous effort by Republicans to overturn the DC law failed in the Senate. It will likely suffer the same fate this time because the Democratic Party still holds a majority in the upper chamber.

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