July 11, 2024

Statement: U.S. House Continues Undermining Election Security with Passage of HR 8281

Messaging bill about non-existent non-citizen voting passes even as House considers stripping election security funding in appropriations

CHICAGO, IL — The U.S. House of Representatives today passed HR 8281, a messaging bill that purports to address non-citizen voting — something which is both already illegal and exceedingly rare. The legislation is part of a broader effort to undermine confidence in elections, deprive local officials of the tools they need to administer secure and transparent elections, and instill fear in voting rights advocates. The House passed the bill while simultaneously considering an appropriations measure stripping Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding for election administration, denying funding that local officials say is critical to election security.

HR 8281’s passage also comes one day after former President Donald Trump threatened to imprison those working to support local election officials in lieu of adequate federal funding.

“We are witnessing an attempt to undermine trust in the legitimacy and security of our elections, and that should alarm anyone who cares about our democracy,” said Sam Oliker-Friedland, executive director of the Institute for Responsive Government. “If lawmakers were serious about strengthening the integrity of elections, they’d commit to funding them properly. Instead, many of these same lawmakers are actively working to take away federal funding and threatening to jail those who want to support election officials in administering secure and transparent elections.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson recently was asked for examples of non-citizen voting and acknowledged there was no data to back up HR 8281: “We all know, intuitively, that a lot of illegals are voting in federal elections, but it’s not been something that is easily provable….We don’t have that number.” Think tanks from across the political spectrum, including the Heritage Foundation, all agree that non-citizen voting is extraordinarily rare.

“This is political posturing at best and ethical malfeasance at worst,” added Oliker-Friedland. “Election officials are quite clearly telling lawmakers what they need to do their jobs right now, and it’s funding for the equipment, the personnel, and the facilities that are needed to administer secure elections.”

The Institute for Responsive Government Action issued a memo outlining all of the ways lawmakers genuinely interested in supporting election integrity can take action, including:

  • Adequately funding elections;
  • Providing proper support and resources for local election officials (who face heightened levels of harassment and violence, largely due to misinformation about election integrity); and
  • Adopting policies proven to be most effective for engaging only eligible voters and effectively maintaining voter rolls — like secure automatic voter registration (SAVR).

To speak with Sam Oliker-Friedland or other Responsive Gov experts about HB 8281 and the need to properly fund elections, please contact dan@responsivegov.org.