House Approves Legislation Banning Noncitizen Voting In DC Municipal Elections

The House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday that would prohibit noncitizens from voting in local elections in Washington D.C. a move that has drawn sharp criticism from the city’s Democratic leaders. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX) passed in a 262-143 vote with the support of all Republicans present and 52 Democrats.

The bill aims to overturn a 2022 law enacted by the D.C. Council that allowed noncitizen residents to vote in municipal elections starting this year. While federal law already bans noncitizens from voting in federal contests, Republicans argue that the nation’s capital should not permit foreign influence in its local leadership.

“Voting is a pillar of American democracy and a constitutional right that undeniably needs to be protected and preserved for citizens of this country,” said House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY). He called the D.C. Council’s decision “irresponsible” and said it “subverts the voices of American citizens.”

However, Democrats have complained the GOP effort is an infringement on D.C.’s right to self-governance β€” which is a right that D.C., which is not a state, doesn’t actually have.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) called the bill “undemocratic” and “paternalistic,” arguing that the city’s majority Black and brown residents are “worthy and capable of self-government.”

The passage of the bill follows a pattern of Republican-led efforts to block D.C. legislation using Congress’s constitutional authority over the federal district.

While the House-passed bill is unlikely to advance in the Senate or receive Biden’s signature, it underscores the ongoing power struggle between the Democratic-led city government and the Republican-controlled House.

As the struggle continues, it appears lost on those defending D.C.’s ill-advised policies that the district is not a state, and that there is no right to self-governance in the federal district. If self-governance is the desire, residents should move to a nearby state that has the right to self-governance enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.