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House Republicans urge DC mayor to reject city council bill allowing non-citizens to vote

FILE — The Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. (TND)
FILE — The Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. (TND)
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House Republicans sent a letter to Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser Thursday, calling on her to reject putting her support behind two city council bills that would allow non-citizens to vote in local elections.

The “Local Resident Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2022” and the “Elections Modernization Amendment Act” are both awaiting mayoral review before heading to Congress, which must also approve it in order for the acts to become law.

The D.C. Council has passed legislation that fundamentally violates American sovereignty, and it has done it right in the Nation's capital. This is a disgraceful episode in the District's history," the letter stated. "Pursuant to the Constitution's vesting of authority over the federal district in the United States Congress, we urge you to abandon these bills. Fair elections are a prerequisite for any healthy republic, yet these bills would allow non-citizens to vote, including even those here unlawfully, and would formalize a dramatic expansion of D.C.'s poorly executed efforts to mail live ballots automatically—not upon a voter's request—to unmaintained voter registration lists."

The “Local Resident Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2022” was introduced by council members in June 2021, and it expanded voting rights to legal non-citizens, according to the letter. However, the law was later amended by the D.C. city council to also include non-citizens residing illegally in the nation’s capital.

“True representation requires that all of our residents’ voices are heard,” D.C. city councilmember Brooke Pinto, who co-introduced the proposal to include illegally residing non-citizens in the act, said last month. “This gets us closer to a truly representative democracy. All people who live in our city as residents are contributing members of our society and deserve a voice in how our city is run.”

Besides allowing non-citizens residing in the nation's capital illegally to vote, the D.C. city council's proposed acts would also allow the D.C. Board of Elections’ practice of automatically mailing live ballots to voters listed on an unmaintained voter registration list to become permanent, according to the letter.

Federal law requires that the District maintain its voter registration list to ensure those who are ineligible (e.g., those who have moved or those who have died, among other reasons) are removed promptly. Yet, as is evident from the Board's recent and serious failures, this required list maintenance is simply not occurring, in violation of federal law," the letter from House Republicans argued. "Voters in the District should feel confident that only qualified electors are voting in their elections, but without a properly maintained voter registration list, automatically mailing live ballots to all names included on a registration list is nothing more than election subversion in the highest order."

The letter to Bowser was led by Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., a ranking member of the Committee on House Administration as well as Reps. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., and Bryan Steil, R-Wis.

In addition to asking for Bowser to disapprove of the city council’s proposed acts, the letter also asked for a “staff-level briefing” no later than the end of the month to assist in understanding how the D.C. government is addressing the issues noted in the letter.

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