Washington, D.C. — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today gave the following statement on the House floor in support of H.Res. 1071, which recognizes that allowing illegal immigrants to vote in elections devalues the franchise and diminishes the voting power of United States citizens.
Chairman Goodlatte: I rise in support of this resolution, which expresses the official position of the U.S. House of Representatives regarding the sanctity of the vote in our federal system.
The authors of America’s founding documents extolled the necessity of voting to a free society. Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, believed that – and I quote — “Should things go wrong at any time, the people will set them to rights by the peaceable exercise of their elective rights.” Jefferson also believed that “The elective franchise, if guarded as the ark of our safety, will peaceably dissipate all combinations to subvert a Constitution, dictated by the wisdom, and resting on the will of the people.”
James Madison, the principal author of the Constitution and contributor to the Federalist Papers said at the Constitutional Convention that he — quote — “considered the popular election of one branch of the National Legislature as essential to every plan of free Government [and] that the great fabric to be raised would be more stable and durable, if it should rest on the solid foundation of the people themselves …” Madison continued that “under every view of the subject, it seems indispensable that the [m]ass of [c]itizens should not be without a voice, in making the laws which they are to obey, [and] in [choosing] the Magistrates, who are to administer them.”
Alexander Hamilton, another contributor to the Federalist Papers, wrote that “A share in the sovereignty of the state, which is exercised by the citizens at large, in voting at elections is one of the most important rights of the subject, and in a republic ought to stand foremost in the estimation of the law.”
And John Jay, the third and final contributor to the Federalist Papers, believed – quote — “The Americans are the first people whom Heaven has favored with an opportunity of deliberating upon and choosing the forms of government under which they should live.”
The Constitution prohibits discrimination in voting based on race, sex, poll taxes, and age. And the sanctity of the vote is also part of the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on the subject. In the landmark case of Reynolds v. Sims, the Supreme Court stated “the right of suffrage can be denied by a debasement or dilution of the weight of a citizen’s vote just as effectively as by wholly prohibiting the free exercise of the franchise.
Voting is fundamental to a functioning democracy and it’s of paramount importance that the United States maintain the legitimacy of its elections and protect them from undue interference, including foreign threats and illegal voting. While the Constitution allows States and localities to grant non-citizens the right to vote in non-federal elections, citizenship today denotes an association with America which uniquely encourages voting in furtherance of the well-being of other Americans and the sovereign nation to which they owe their allegiance. Consequently, it’s very concerning to me that some localities have extended to non-citizens the right to vote in certain non-federal elections, including school board elections.
And extending voting rights to illegal immigrants acts as another incentive for foreign nationals to come to the United States illegally, and stay. Instead of helping deter illegal behavior, jurisdictions such as San Francisco continue to implement policies that encourage such behavior. And they do so to the detriment of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants alike.
I thank the Majority Leader for introducing this resolution and I urge all my colleagues to support it.