Republicans Take Trump’s Planned 2024 Election Denialism To The House Floor

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WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 8: Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) are seen during a news conference on the steps of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol on May 8, 2024 in Washingto... WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 8: Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) are seen during a news conference on the steps of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol on May 8, 2024 in Washington, DC. House and Senate Republicans are introducing the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act, to require proof of citizenship to vote in federal elections. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Donald Trump has been fixated on non-citizen voting for years. Back in 2016, he insisted falsely that he would’ve won the popular vote if it hadn’t been for millions of undocumented immigrants voting for Hillary Clinton.

That, of course, is not true. It is illegal for non-citizens to vote in federal elections. But it’s a well he’s returned to repeatedly in the years since as he seeks to cast doubt on any election result that doesn’t end in his favor. And it’s a familiar area of fixation for Republicans, who have, on and off, been sounding the alarm about the non-issue for decades — long before Trump. It’s been raised as a fear in American elections dating back to the nineteenth century, despite the fact that study after study has shown that non-citizen voting in presidential elections is vanishingly rare. The Brennan Center conducted a review in 2016 in response to Trump’s false claims about the popular vote and found that only 0.0001 percent of the 23.5 million votes cast could even potentially be from non-citizens — a couple dozen people in a country of more than 300 million.

That’s largely because the repercussions for voting illegally as a non-citizen are harsh. It’s not only a federal crime with penalties of up to five years in prison, but every single state in the nation has outlawed it, too, at the state level. If you even register to vote as a non-citizen you could be deported. The myth of non-citizens swaying elections is one that has been debunked repeatedly over the decades, but that still routinely resurfaces — in recent years by Republicans looking for a demographic to pin their mass voter fraud fantasies upon. Even Trump’s team knows this.

In the aftermath of the 2020 election, Trump and his allies specifically chose to fixate on other conspiracy theories like rigged voting machines and Italian satellites over non-citizen voting as the basis of their various Big Lie complaints. Per the New York Times:

After Mr. Trump lost the 2020 election, there was so little evidence of noncitizens voting that he and his allies largely avoided the topic as they pushed to overturn the election results. 

But the myth has been resurrected by Trump in recent weeks. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) traveled to Mar-a-Lago to hold a press conference with Trump back in April to announce Republicans’ new “election integrity” efforts, focused on combatting non-citizen voting (which is, again, already illegal under federal law). Since then, far-right MAGA groups loyal to Trump’s Big Lie have been clinging to the cause as their new 2024 area of fixation. Both the Constitutional Sheriffs movement and True The Vote have put out guides and training materials encouraging vigilante reporting of non-citizen voting suspicions by their followers, as TPM’s Khaya Himmelman has reported.

Republicans have since taken their crusade to give Trump some mythical form of voter fraud to point to if he loses in the fall to the halls of Congress. Earlier this month, Johnson held a press conference promoting the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act with a bunch of Republican lawmakers and election deniers who previous worked on various “Stop the Steal” efforts.

That redundant bill is expected to be brought to the floor for a vote this week, alongside another bill that would roll back a D.C. law that allows non-citizens to vote in local elections, like school board races.

While both bills have little-to-no chance of becoming law, it helps further the true goal: it gives Trump something besides ballot drop boxes and mail-in-voting to latch onto in the fall if he suffers a loss.

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