Democrat Witnesses At Hearing Refuse To Denounce Non-Citizen Voting

During a recent congressional hearing related to non-citizen voting, every witness brought by Democrats was unable to simply answer “yes” or “no” when asked if non-citizens should be permitted to vote in federal elections.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act on Tuesday March 12. The legislation lays out stipulations for states and municipalities determined to have previously engaged in voter discrimination to pass a “preclearance” from the federal government prior to adapting new voter laws.

Though it failed twice before thanks to resistance from Republican lawmakers, the legislation was reintroduced on Feb. 29 by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and is currently under consideration in the Senate.

As part of the hearing, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) questioned Democratic witnesses by asking a number of questions related to the voting rights of non-citizens. When asked direct inquiries, the lawmaker was met with roundabout responses that did not provide “yes” or “no” answers.

Lee first wanted to know if the witnesses “believe that only citizens of the United States should be able to vote in federal elections.”

Damon Hewitt, the executive director at The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, replied to the question by saying that his organization does not hold a particular stance on the issue. He instead noted that they are “certainly” advocating for all Americans to vote if they are “eligible under current law.”

Another witness, Lydia Camarillo of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, said that non-citizen voting is “a decision of the state law.” When she started to “emphasize” another point, Lee interrupted to specify if she believed that state law was responsible for determining “who should vote in federal elections.”

Camarillo replied by expressing her support for states to determine voter eligibility for “various elections” and that leaders should urge “people to naturalize and then vote” when it comes to federal elections.

Lee continued, wanting her to specifically answer whether she believes that the federal government “should have no say in who votes in a federal election,” to which Camarillo said she does not “have a position on that.”

Similarly, ACLU Voting Rights Project director Sophia Lin Lakin said that non-citizens are not allowed to vote in federal elections per federal law, but that the organization is “focus[ed] on enabling all eligible voters to be able to vote and cast their ballot.”

Of all the witnesses during the hearing, only two Republicans—Maureen Riordan of the Public Interest Legal Foundation and Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation’s Election Law Reform Initiative—expressed opposition to allowing non-citizens to vote.