Civil Rights Groups Letter in Opposition to SAVE Act

View pdf of this letter here.

May 16, 2024

The Honorable Bryan Steil
Chair
Committee on House Administration
1309 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Joe Morelle
Ranking Member
Committee on House Administration
1216 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chair Steil and Ranking Member Morelle,

On behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of national organizations committed to promoting and protecting the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States; the Declaration for American Democracy, a coalition of local, state, and national organizations working to strengthen U.S. democracy; and the undersigned 126 organizations, we write in strong opposition to the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act.

Congress has a pivotal constitutional responsibility to safeguard free and fair elections and to ensure all Americans have the freedom to vote. The SAVE Act represents a dangerous departure from fulfilling this vital duty. The bill’s requirement of documentary proof of American citizenship to register to vote in federal elections is wholly based on falsehoods and, even worse, seeks to promote fear-mongering and divisive rhetoric. Instead of proceeding with this legislation, Congress should take actions that will help voters and promote democracy such as passing legislation that will strengthen protections against discrimination in voting and expand access to the ballot for all communities.

The SAVE Act is both unnecessary and dangerous. Our electoral system already deploys processes to ensure that our elections are secure and that only eligible voters are participating in our democracy. Voters in every state are already required to affirm or verify their citizenship status when registering to vote. State election officials already have in place existing systems to verify an individual’s voter eligibility and ensure voter rolls are accurate.

Moreover, federal law already prohibits noncitizens from voting in federal elections. Every single state bans noncitizens from voting in state elections. These protections have proven very effective, given that there is simply no evidence of widespread noncitizen voting in elections. Indeed, it defies logic that non-U.S. citizens would risk their immigration status, the potential of criminal prosecution, future opportunity for naturalization, and freedom for themselves and their families by unlawfully committing an affirmative act to vote in an election in which they are prohibited from participating. The penalties for registering or voting as a non-U.S. citizen include imprisonment or deportation. The risks for any non-U.S. citizen to vote in a federal election are serious and steep, and our laws already effectively prevent significant unlawful voter registration and voting.

Introduction and advancement of this bill is 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. 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. This legislation seeks to intimidate members of immigrant communities and communities of color from exercising their lawful right to vote. It also would make it harder for voters of color and naturalized citizens to register to vote and would prevent their full participation in democracy. These are already communities who are unfairly targeted by anti-immigrant policies at the federal, state, and local level. Congress should be doing everything possible to encourage and promote the political participation of these citizens, rather than seeking to diminish it through threats and fear tactics.

Legislation like the SAVE Act is intended to elicit irrational fear of the growing number of citizens of color. Congress should instead act to ensure that every eligible U.S. citizen has the freedom to vote unimpeded by discriminatory rules rooted in fear and division. We urge you to instead focus on passing real pro-voter reforms to ensure that everyone can fully participate in our democracy. If you have any questions, please contact Leslie Proll, senior director of the voting rights program at The Leadership Conference, at [email protected].

Sincerely,

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Declaration for American Democracy
18by Vote
Accountable US
Advancement Project
AFT
All About The Ballots
All On The Line
All Voting Is Local Action
America’s Voice
American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
American Civil Liberties Union
American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees
American Humanist Association
Arab American Institute (AAI)
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC
Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote)
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Baltimore County Progressive Democrats Club
Black Voters Matter Fund
Brennan Center for Justice
Campaign Legal Center
Carolina Jews for Justice
Center for Common Ground
Center for Living & Working, Inc.
Center for Popular Democracy
Chicago Survivors
Chispa LCV
CivicGeorgia
Clean Elections Texas
Coalition on Human Needs
Common Cause
Common Defense
Communications Workers of America
Courage for America
Defend Democracy
DemCast USA
Democracy 21
Democracy Maine
Democracy Matters
Democracy SENTRY
Demos
Detroit Disability Power
End Citizens United // Let America Vote Action Fund
Fair Elections Center
Faith Commons
Faith in Public Life Action
Fix Democracy First
FLIC Votes
Free Speech For People
Georgia Coalition for the Peoples Agenda
Get Money Out – Maryland
Government Information Watch
Greenpeace USA
HeadCount
Helping Hands Outreach Services of Mississippi
Hip Hop Caucus
Indivisible Santa Fe
Interfaith Alliance
Japanese American Citizens League
JustLeadership USA
Lawyers for Good Government
LDF
League of Conservation Voters
League of Women Voters of the United States
MALDEF
Memphis APRI
Missouri Voter Protection Coalition
MomsRising
MoveOn
Muslims for Community, Action and Support (MCAS)
N.C. For the People Action
NALEO Educational Fund
National Action Network
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
National Association of Social Workers
National Community Action Partnership
National Council of Jewish Women
National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)
National Education Association
National Employment Law Project
National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC)
National Urban League
Native American Rights Fund
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
New Georgia Project Action Fund
Out of Many 1 Advocacy
People For the American Way
People Power United
Pride at Work
Project On Government Oversight
Protect Democracy
Public Citizen
RepresentUs
RespectAbility
Safer Country
Scrutineers
Secure Elections Network
Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund
Stand UP Alaska
Stand Up America
State Voices
Storied Analytics LLC
The National Vote
The Workers Circle
Transformative Justice Coalition
Transparency International U.S.
Un-PAC
UnidosUS
Union of Concerned Scientists
Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice
United Church of Christ
Vote.org
Voter Participation Center
Voters Rights and Protection Taskforce
Voto Latino
WALKING TO FIX OUR DEMOCRACY
We Are All America
Westchester for Change
Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center
Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice
Women’s March
WV Citizen Action
WV FREE (West Virginia Focus: Reproductive Education and Equity)
ZERO TO THREE