This bill — the Ensuring American Voters Act — would prohibit states from registering voters for a federal election unless the individual provides proof that they’re a U.S. citizen. Qualifying documentary evidence would include any of the following (either an original or a photocopy): 1) A certified birth certificate issued by a state or local government; 2) A valid U.S. passport; 3) A Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by the State Dept.; 4) A Naturalization Certificate or Certificate of Citizenship issued by the Dept. of Homeland Security.
What is House Bill H.R. 1217?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 1217
In-Depth: Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) reintroduced this bill to improve the security and integrity of federal elections by ensuring that foreign nationals can't register to vote fraudulently and improperly cast ballots. Citing reports of non-citizens registering to vote in Texas, California, and Ohio, Rep. Gibbs said:
"Voting is a fundamental responsibility for American citizens, who are the only people that should determine our nation’s elections. Our election systems require security from start to finish, from voter registration to results tabulation. Unfortunately, there are gaps, resulting in thousands of non-citizens registering and illegally voting in American elections. We can help close one of these gaps by requiring proof of citizenship at the time someone registers to vote. That is what the Ensuring American Voters Act does. In Ohio alone, nearly 200 recent races were tied or decided by just one vote. Whether it is one vote or thousands, illegal voting dilutes the power of American citizens and can affect the outcome of elections."
When he introduced this bill in the 115th Congress, Rep. Gibbs cited seven indictments for fraudulent voting by foreign nationals in Franklin County, Ohio and 19 indictments in North Carolina from recent elections, and added:
“Only U.S. citizens should be voting in federal elections, yet there are gaps in the voter registration systems that can be exploited. A dozen states and the District of Columbia give illegal aliens the opportunity to obtain drivers’ licenses, with eight of those entities offering voter registration at the time of obtaining a license. To close this gap, I introduced the Ensuring American Voters Act today, which requires proof of citizenship citizenship at the time of registering to vote. This is a matter of protecting the integrity of our elections. We have made substantial investments in protecting our voting systems from foreign influence or corruption. It is time to take steps to stop illegal voting before it happens, rather than dealing with consequences after the fact.”
Last Congress, Credo Action expressed opposition to this bill, calling it “racist” and “voter ID on steroids”, before adding:
“There is absolutely no need for Gibbs’ legislation, because non-citizen voting just doesn’t happen. The Brennan Center for Justice found that non-citizens cast only 0.0001 percent of ballots and the small handful who try end up indicted under existing law. Gibbs’ bill is nothing more than a sham to shift attention away from the foreign governments like Russia and deep-pocketed corporations who are deliberately manipulating elections, perpetuate the voter fraud myth and give red meat to the Republican Party’s anti-immigrant base. You can bet that if it passes, election officials will be asking mostly Black and Brown folks to show their papers.”
When Rep. Gibbs introduced this bill in 2018, Lorain County, Ohio's Board of Elections director, Paul Adams, said voting by non-citizens in Ohio wasn't a widespread problem. While Adams noted that a 2017 investigation by Ohio Secretary of State John Husted's office found 126 instances of non-U.S. citizens casting ballots in the state, he also concluded that it was a drop in the bucket, given that there are over eight million registered voters in Ohio. Adams said, "We would love to see that number [of non-citizens voting] be zero, but at this time we are looking at certainly a number of other priorities other than the 126 out of 8 million."
In a 2017 statement, Ohio Secretary of State Husted argued that it's still important to hold people who vote fraudulently accountable, even if the problem isn't widespread. He said, "In light of the national discussion about illegal voting it is important to inform our discussions with facts. The fact is voter fraud happens, it is rare and when it happens, we hold people accountable.”
- Sponsoring Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) Press Release
- Sponsoring Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) Press Release (115th Congress)
- The Chronicle
- Credo Action (Opposed)
Summary by Eric Revell(Photo Credit: iStock.com / YinYang)
Ensuring American Voters Act of 2019
To amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to prohibit a State from registering an individual to vote in elections for Federal office held in the State unless the individual provides documentary proof that the individual is a citizen of the United States.
- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Committee on AdministrationIntroducedFebruary 13th, 2019
- house Committees