The U.S. House voted 221-198 to pass the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility, or SAVE, Act on Wednesday evening. In the party line vote, all but four Republicans supported the bill and five Democrats joined them.

The entire Utah congressional delegation — Reps. Blake Moore, Celeste Maloy, John Curtis and Burgess Owens — voted yes on the measure.

The SAVE Act would amend the National Voter Registration Act to require American voters to show proof of citizenship when registering to vote.

Moore, who represents Utah’s 1st District and is the vice chair of the House Republican Conference, said the bill is simple.

“Only Americans should vote in American elections. Period,” he said in a statement to the Deseret News. “This, of course, is already law for federal elections, so why would there be a need for this vote? Because it’s already against the law to illegally cross the border, but that continues to happen due to the Biden Administration’s inept border policies,”

Curtis, who represents Utah’s 3rd District, in a statement to the Deseret News said “Voting is both a right and a privilege for U.S. citizens. The SAVE Act bolsters election security by requiring voters to prove their citizenship.”

“Recently, cities like Washington D.C. and New York City have permitted non-citizens, including diplomats from nations like Russia and China, to vote in local elections. Addressing this issue is simply common sense,” he added.

Maloy, who represents Utah’s 2nd District, said, “The act respects state control and rebalances federalism by correcting a poorly designed law that prevented states from determining citizenship.”

“Removing that barrier and sharing data empowers states and safeguards the intent of the Constitution,” she said.

Owens, who represents Utah’s 4th District, in a statement blamed the overwhelming crisis at the southern border for heightened security concerns over election interference.

“Not only has this administration put the safety and security of Americans at risk, but it has also jeopardized the integrity of our nation’s election system, all for their party’s political gain,” he said.

What did Speaker Mike Johnson say about SAVE Act?

After the vote, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., in a statement said, “Over the past four years, Joe Biden has welcomed millions upon millions of illegals into the country knowing that noncitizens only have to check a box to vote in a federal election.”

“We have long known this was an intentional effort to turn them into voters, and now the American people know where every member of Congress stands on this critically important issue,” the statement said. Earlier Wednesday, Johnson in his remarks on the House floor argued that although it’s already illegal for noncitizens to vote in U.S. elections, “this is happening.”

On Tuesday, former President Donald Trump in a post on Truth Social urged Republicans to pass the voter reform, “or go home and cry yourself to sleep.”

He also implied Democrats will rely on migrants as vote banks, before alleging “voting system is under siege” and the “Justice Department is corrupt.”

Sen. Mike Lee argued for SAVE Act’s passage

Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who has introduced similar legislation in the Senate, thanked Trump for backing the SAVE Act. He has boldly championed this bill and argued for its passage on social media.

In one post, he said that just because voting is illegal for foreigners doesn’t mean it stops them from participating in the elections.

“By that logic, we don’t need to worry about border security because illegal immigration is already unlawful,” the GOP senator said. “The same reasoning would likewise suggest that background checks are unnecessary because the law already prohibits felons from possessing firearms.”

The SAVE Act would allow election officials to be sued for wrongly registering a voter who didn’t provide the required proof of citizenship, and for the lawbreaking noncitizen to be removed from the country.

It would also mandate that the Social Security Administration share any necessary information with election officials that could prove a voter’s citizenship.

Last month, Johnson’s office put out a 22-page report that made the case for passing the SAVE Act, as the Deseret News reported.

The report offered a picture of noncitizens voting in the U.S. In the “irrefutable evidence,” the report said officials in Massachusetts found 70 foreign nationals cast ballots earlier this year, and in Ohio, they found 137 such registrations, according to the report. In 2023, Virginia officials removed 1,481 voter registrations from the voter rolls over “noncitizen status.”

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The report also included a 2014 study that estimated 6.4% of noncitizens voted in the 2008 general election, “likely enough to change the outcome of the presidential election in North Carolina that year” and sway it toward President Barack Obama.

In contrast, another study from the Brennan Center for Justice revealed that about 0.0001% out of more than 23.5 million votes were suspected to be cast by noncitizens, as The Guardian reported.

This bill is likely to get stymied in the Democrat-controlled Senate. But that hasn’t stopped Lee from continuing to fight to pass the SAVE Act.

“It’s now time for the Senate to act, and I’ve got big plans,” he said in a post on Wednesday evening. “Federal elections are only for U.S. citizens.”

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