Mike Johnson, 56th Speaker
Mike Johnson. Photo credit: US House / Wikimedia

Because their base believes Donald Trump’s lies about a “stolen election,” House Republicans have made utterly unnecessary legislation the centerpiece of their “election integrity” efforts.

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This week, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) touted new legislation that would make it illegal for people to rob banks. Just kidding — that would be stupid because it is already illegal to rob banks, and what keeps people from doing it are precisely the laws that are already in place. 

However, something akin to this is exactly what House Republicans proudly announced this week as their latest push to ensure “election integrity”… GOP style. 

In other words, the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act is not actually about election integrity but rather about pretending to address a problem that may exist in Donald Trump’s mind but not in real life… and for which penalties already exist. 

There is no evidence that indicates that large numbers (or even fairly small numbers) of noncitizens are voting in US elections. Many studies have been conducted on this issue, and Republicans have unsuccessfully tried to prove that this is an actual problem, to no avail. 

Furthermore, intentionally voting illegally would be one of the dumbest crimes one could commit, which is why it happens exceedingly rarely. The penalties are extremely harsh and the upside of casting one additional vote is minuscule.   

However, this is not about an actual problem or about reality. It’s about reinforcing the doubts that Trump wants to sow regarding US elections.

Johnson made this abundantly clear on Wednesday when discussing the new legislation. 

Flanked by a Who’s Who of election deniers, he was asked about the scope of the problem. Of course, the answer to that question is that it’s not a problem at all. Most of the handful of people who are voting illegally do so because of their ignorance of the law, not ill intent. 

But that won’t stop Republicans from undermining the faith of their voters in US democracy. 

“We all know, intuitively, that a lot of illegals are voting in federal elections,” Johnson said, “But it’s not been something that is easily provable. We don’t have that number.”

Let that sink in. The big “contribution” Republicans want to make to election integrity is legislation to solve a problem that only exists in their minds. 

It would be foolish to think that this is the only purpose of the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act, as Johnson made clear in his remarks. 

Just as much as sowing doubts about the outcome of the election should Trump lose again, the legislation is also about all of the issues that get the Republican base riled up. 

Primarily, that means highlighting the “wide-open border” and the number of “illegals” that have entered the country in the last three years.

However, Johnson also managed to somehow make the SAVE Act about college protests concerning the conflict in Gaza.

“In recent days, we’ve seen a growing number of folks on student visas show their willingness to break the law and utterly disrupt our way of life and threaten law-abiding students who are actually American citizens,” Johnson said. “If they’re willing to take over buildings and physically terrorize their fellow students, why would they not be willing to lie on a voter registration form?”

That’s like saying, “This person was going 93 miles per hour in a 55 mile-per-hour stretch of highway. If they’re willing to do that, what would stop them from holding up a liquor store?” These things are completely unrelated. 

One would hope that someone who made it to the speakership of the House of Representatives would realize how utterly stupid that argument is. Sadly, most GOP voters won’t. 


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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