Trump and Mike Johnson push for ban on non-US citizens voting – despite it already being illegal

The House speaker is to visit Mar-a-Lago and step up false claims that immigrants are coming to the US and casting votes en masse

Amelia Neath
Friday 12 April 2024 12:04 BST
Biden blames Trump for border chaos

Donald Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson are planning to push a bill to ban non-citizens from voting during an appearance at Mar-a-Lago – something which is already illegal.

Mr Johnson is set to hold a press conference at the former president’s residence on Friday, part of longstanding Republican attack lines against Democrats. There is little evidence to suggest that non-citizen voting is a widespread issue throughout the different states. In a study of the 2016 election by the Brennan Center, researchers found that just 0.0001 per cent of voters across 42 jurisdictions, encompassing 23.5m votes, were suspected to be non-citizens who managed to vote - that is an estimated 30 incidents in total.

However, Donald Trump has incessantly laid down claims of election fraud and has subsequently spoken about his unsupported theory that migrants are in the United States because they are being “signed up” to vote.

“I think they really are doing it because they want to sign these people up to vote. I really do,” Mr Trump said at an Iowa rally in January. “They can’t speak a word of English for the most part, but they’re signing them up.”

Non-citizens are already not allowed to vote in United States federal elections under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 and no states allow non-citizens to vote at state-level, and in most local elections, either.

More recently, Mr Trump took to Truth Social on Wednesday to post a statement in an apparent response to reports that President Joe Biden may be taking executive actions to reduce migrant crossings.

However, the former president claimed that Mr Biden “opposes deportations” and “wants to turn his illegal migrants into voting citizens.”

Yet studies on voting fraud relating to non-citizens voting show that numbers are not astronomically high, and that cases have been very rare in the past.

Since 2002, there have been just 85 cases of alleged non-citizen voting in the United States, according to a database compiled by The Heritage Foundation.

There are only three states and Washington DC that have municipalities that allow noncitizens to vote in certain local elections, which are very few and far between, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Non-citizens are not likely to try and vote as it puts them at risk of deportation and revocation of their legal status; illegally voting in a federal election can also result in a fine and one year in federal prison, the centre says.

The supposed bill comes at a time when border security has become one of the key focuses surrounding the race to the White House, with both Mr Trump and President Joe Biden targeting each other over border policies.

Mr Biden has repeatedly slammed Mr Trump and his Republican allies for blocking a bipartisan compromise bill earlier this year that would have seen sweeping changes in the US immigration system in exchange for aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

“This is literally the truth, what happened was when Trump found out that I liked it and I supported it, and I’d get, quote, credit for it, he got on the phone – not a joke – checked with the Republicans and called them and said, don’t be for it, will benefit Biden,” the president in an interview on Tuesday with Univision.

“When the hell would you vote on a major piece of legislation based on whether you benefit somebody that’s in politics? It’s either good or it’s bad. It was a good piece of legislation, and I’m not giving up on it.”

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