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Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman March 13, 2019

No, House Democrats did not vote to allow noncitizens to vote as part of HR 1

A misleading social media post suggests that House Democrats want to give the right to vote to noncitizens.

"House Dems 228 yes 197 GOP no to allow illegal aliens to have right to vote. Let that sink in America!" stated a March 9 Facebook text-post that was posted on a page called Donald Trump for President Martin County, Florida.

The text post oversimplifies a vote in the U.S. House.

The quote was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) As Snopes points out, there are other variations of the claim going around. 

Some conservative politicians and activists have been raising alarm about noncitizens voting, including President Donald Trump (often without evidence). There have been cases of noncitizens who have cast ballots, but they are statistically rare.

The Facebook post provides no additional details. It is in reference to HR 1, the bill that calls for sweeping changes to voting rights and campaign finance. The Democratic-led House passed the bill March 8, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he has no plans to bring the legislation to a vote.

Read more: Is HR 1 a voting rights expansion or federal power grab?

The specific vote that relates to the Facebook post was on a motion before the final vote on the bill. The motion by Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, said, "It is the sense of Congress that allowing illegal immigrants the right to vote devalues the franchise and diminishes the voting power of United States citizens."

Crenshaw’s motion was rejected 228-197, largely along party lines.

The Facebook post was close on the vote margin but oversimplified it. There was one Republican who joined the Democrats against the motion, and six Democrats joined the Republicans in favor.

By voting against a motion that said allowing illegal immigrants to vote devalues the franchise, it opened the door for conservatives to attack Democrats — although this Facebook claim is exaggerating.

Just because Democrats voted against a motion reaffirming that illegal immigrants can’t vote doesn’t mean they voted to actually allow those immigrants to vote.

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The United States already has a law that prevents noncitizens from casting a ballot for president or other federal offices. HR 1 doesn’t change that law — and HR 1 doesn’t call for extending the right to vote to noncitizens.

Crenshaw’s motion acknowledged this point about existing law, stating "federal law prohibits noncitizens from voting in elections for Federal office."

A vote on the "sense of Congress" is a way for lawmakers to express an opinion, but it is not legally binding. That means even if the motion by Crenshaw had passed, it would only have symbolic power.

U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., called Crenshaw’s motion an effort to divert from the mission "to expand voting rights to every American citizen in federal elections."

While noncitizens can’t vote in federal elections, they can vote in some local elections in certain jurisdictions.

Crenshaw criticized such cities including San Francisco, which allows noncitizens to vote in school board elections, saying they had fallen into "radicalism" by extending the right to vote to undocumented immigrants.

Crenshaw tweeted: "Today I offered a motion to recommit #HR1 reaffirming that only US citizens should have the right to vote. Dems rejected it. Next time you go to the ballot box, keep that in mind. The future of their party is in cities like San Fran, where illegals can vote. Let that sink in."

Our ruling

A Facebook post said 228 House Democrats voted "to allow illegal aliens to have right to vote."

The text post inaccurately describes what the vote was about.

The post refers to a Republican-sponsored motion that said, "It is the sense of Congress that allowing illegal immigrants the right to vote devalues the franchise and diminishes the voting power of United States citizens."

The motion only cited an example of noncitizens being allowed to vote in a local election whereas the Facebook text post uses scare language to imply that it's voting of all types.

The motion was symbolic and would not have changed anything, since existing U.S. law already bans noncitizens from voting in federal elections. By voting against the measure, Democrats opened themselves up to attacks — but they simply didn’t move to allow noncitizens to have the right to vote.

We rate this statement False.

Our Sources, HR 1, Introduced Jan. 3, 2019, On motion to recommit, March 8, 2019

Facebook, Donald Trump for President Martin County, March 9, 2019

U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, Press release and motion to recommit, March 8, 2019, House Resolution 1071, Sept. 26, 2018

National Conference of State Legislatures, Voting by nonresidents, June 20, 2018

Washington Times, House votes in favor of illegal immigrant voting, March 8, 2019

Fox News, House Dems overwhelmingly reject motion to condemn illegal immigrant voting, March 9, 2019

Texas Tribune, Texas again mistakenly flags voters for citizenship reviews, March 11, 2019

PolitiFact, Can noncitizens vote in San Francisco, Takoma Park elections? Sept. 15, 2017

Interview, Lauren Fine, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La,  spokeswoman, March 11, 2019

Interview, Kerry Rom, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, spokeswoman, March 11, 2019

Interview, Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, March 11, 2019

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More by Amy Sherman

No, House Democrats did not vote to allow noncitizens to vote as part of HR 1

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