Fact check: Ted Cruz mistakenly claims Democrats’ voting bill is designed to register millions of undocumented immigrants
Cruz also said the bill “automatically registers to vote anyone who interacts with the government,” regardless of their immigration status.
Facts first: All of Cruz’s statements are false. There is no evidence that the bill seeks to register millions of undocumented immigrants to vote. The bill proposes an automatic voter registration system, but its text repeatedly states that only U.S. citizens would be eligible to be registered in the system. It is simply not true that the bill would register anyone who interacts with the government or that the bill orders people to break the law to register non-citizens.
What the text of the bill says
The wording of the automatic voter registration bill makes it clear that people would have to be U.S. citizens, as they are today, to be registered to vote. In fact, a four-part section explaining the “purpose” of the system refers three times to “eligible citizens”.
The bill then explains how automatic voter registration would work when implemented in 2023. The central feature of the system is that citizens who are eligible to vote and who have relationships with various government agencies – from the department motor vehicles from the state to the federal Department of Veterans Affairs – would automatically be registered to vote unless he chooses to opt out, rather than having to choose to register to register.
The bill says government agencies should offer a voter registration opportunity whenever someone requests “a service or assistance.” (Universities should provide an enrollment opportunity when a state student enrolls for the first time.) Agencies that already require people to assert their U.S. citizenship during their normal operations should notify citizens Americans that, unless they choose to opt out or are found ineligible to register, they will register or have their existing registration updated.
Agencies should also inform citizens of the criteria for being a legal voter – one of which is to be a citizen – and that they should opt out if they do not meet those conditions. Then, if citizens don’t opt out, agencies will need to send their registration information electronically to state election officials.
The bill explains that agencies should send not only a person’s name, date of birth and address, but “information showing that the individual is a citizen of the United States.” And the bill says that election officials must then quickly ensure that the person is registered, but only “if the person is eligible.”
The steps are slightly different for government agencies that don’t normally require people to assert US citizenship, but again, people should assert that they are citizens before registering.
Current law does not require proof of citizenship
A spokesperson for Cruz, Steve Guest, supported the senator’s claims.
It is an unfounded leap in logic. Dismissing a Republican amendment to require potential voters to provide citizenship documents does not confirm that Democrats are trying to register undocumented migrants – especially, again, given that their bill already insists that only citizens need to be registered. There are obvious and benign explanations for the opposition to citizenship documentation requirements, which would make certain citizens at least go the extra mile to register to vote and would impose an additional administrative burden on government agencies.
And the bill would not prevent state and local election officials from inspecting their voters lists. In Michigan, which has an automatic voter registration system, the State Department conducts internal reviews and audits “to identify, detect and correct instances in which non-citizens may have registered. inappropriate way to vote, “said Aneta Kiersnowski, spokesperson for the secretary. of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat.
An immunity clause
In Tuesday’s meeting, Cruz noted that the bill immunizes non-citizens from prosecution or harm in immigration proceedings, if they are improperly registered to vote through the system. automatic voter registration. He claimed that the existence of this immunity provision is proof of his claim that the bill is designed to register millions of undocumented people.
This is another illogical leap.
Supporters of automatic voter registration claim the immunity provision is in the bill to prevent a non-citizen from being arrested or deported in the unlikely event, they are mistakenly registered due to government error.
“These provisions fundamentally recognize the fact that there is a risk of the rare occasion that someone is going to be inadvertently registered,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, deputy director of voting rights and elections at the Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal organization that supports automatic voter registration. Morales-Doyle said “we know this hasn’t been a widespread problem”, but if it does, “these people shouldn’t be kicked out because the state made a mistake.”
The bill explicitly says that the immunity clause does not apply to a non-citizen who deliberately makes a false declaration to register or who votes even if he knows he is breaking the law.