Vote Here, Vote Aqui
Photo credit: Erik (HASH) Hersman / Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

It’s already illegal for noncitizens to vote; that hasn’t stopped Republicans from creating legislation that uses this nonexistent threat as an excuse for voter suppression.

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If there is one piece of legislation that exemplifies today’s Republicans, then it is the SAVE Act. It is based on an unproven conspiracy theory, its stated purpose is obsolete, it does a bunch of stuff that would help the GOP oppress votes, and it is perfect prop for demagoguery and xenophobia.

If you are unfamiliar with the SAVE Act, it is the legislation that makes something that is already illegal just as illegal.

Sounds dumb? Well, it is.

To understand what the SAVE Act does, you have to think about it along the lines of a bill that would make it unlawful for Americans to kill each other while also creating loopholes for states to murder minorities.

There is just one key difference: Murder is actually a thing that happens. The SAVE Act, which makes it illegal (again) for noncitizens to vote, addresses a problem that does not exist.

To be fair, Republicans wish it did.

“We all know, intuitively, that a lot of illegals are voting in federal elections,” House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) said earlier this year when touting the bill. “But it’s not been something that is easily provable. We don’t have that number.”

In fact, we do not know that noncitizens are voting in significant numbers, which makes sense.

It is a crime with a negligible impact, i.e., it adds one vote to the tens of millions being cast every election (158,397,726 in 2020). However, it carries a stiff penalty. Even registering to vote fraudulently is punishable by up to five years in prison. Oh, and deportation.

In other words, it is absolutely the dumbest felony one can commit.

That doesn’t stop Republicans from pretending as though passage of the SAVE Act is some kind of heroic contribution to democracy.

In reality, it is the opposite.

A vast coalition of voting rights groups called the SAVE Act the most recent example of what has been a string of recent efforts to make voter registration and voting more difficult, particularly for voters of color.

The pro-democracy champions note that “false claims of non-citizen voting have been disingenuously used to enact more onerous voter identification requirements, limitations on voter assistance in languages other than English, and attempts to spread misinformation about voting.”

The result of the SAVE Act would be to scare eligible immigrants into not voting.

And, just in case any Republican lawmakers have doubts about backing something so nonsensical, Donald Trump, the election-denier and democracy-underminer-in-chief, weighed in.

“Non citizen Illegal Migrants are getting the right to vote, being pushed by crooked Democrat Politicians who are not being stopped by an equally dishonest Justice Department. Our whole voting system is under siege,” he wrote in a Truth Social post that does not include a verifiable fact.

There you have it: a useless bill, conspiracy theories, demagoguery, xenophobia, and voter suppression. The only way the SAVE Act would be more on brand would be if it also subpoenaed Hunter Biden.


  • 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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