HomePoliticsTrump and Mike Johnson focus on non-citizen voting. It is already...

Trump and Mike Johnson focus on non-citizen voting. It is already illegal and very rare.

Former President Donald Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson on Friday introduced new legislation to crack down on noncitizen voting, despite the fact that the practice is already illegal and rare.

Johnson said Republicans in the House of Representatives would introduce a bill to require documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote. He spoke at Mar-a-Lago alongside Trump as he tries to fend off threats from his right flank.

“It seems like common sense, I’m sure we all agree that we only want American citizens to vote in American elections,” Johnson said, wrongly suggesting that “so many people” are registering to vote if they receive benefits.

It is already a crime to register or vote as a non-citizen in all state and federal elections, although Washington, DC and a handful of municipalities in California, Maryland and Vermont allow non-citizen voting in local elections.

And few individuals break these laws.

“This is a crime where not only are the consequences very high and the payout very low – you don’t get millions of dollars, it’s not a bank robbery, you only get to cast one vote,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, an attorney. at the Brennan Center for Justice. “But what also makes this somewhat unique is that committing this crime actually involves creating a government record of your crime.”

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Both registering to vote and casting a ballot leave a paper trail that elected officials must routinely check by law. Some documents are also available to the public.

“It’s very easy to catch, and you will get caught,” Morales-Doyle added.

    Donald Trump speaks as House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., listens (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

Donald Trump speaks as House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., listens (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

The consequences are also far-reaching: non-citizens can face jail time, fines or deportation if they vote illegally. Registering to vote alone can carry a five-year prison sentence, according to the Brennan Center.

On the other hand, Morales-Doyle said, requiring documentary proof of citizenship could disenfranchise millions of Americans who do not have access to passports or birth certificates.

Several states have attempted to require documentary proof of citizenship in the past, but federal law currently prohibits this in federal elections. Arizona only requires it for state elections.

Many have examined non-citizen voting and found little evidence of this. The Brennan Center found only 30 presumptive non-citizen votes, among 23.5 million votes in 2016, indicating that presumptive non-citizen votes represented 0.0001% of votes cast. Trump’s own election integrity commission was dissolved without releasing evidence of voter fraud, even as he claimed that three million undocumented immigrants had voted in 2016, costing him the popular vote.

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But Johnson and Trump have both long made baseless claims about election integrity. Johnson repeatedly promoted conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and voting machine rigging, and he recruited Republicans to back a lawsuit seeking to overturn states in which Trump lost.

For Trump, however, the proposal combines two of his favorite talking points: immigration and voter fraud.

“It’s the kind of story that, if you’re inclined to dislike immigrants in the first place, feels truthful in the first place,” said Justin Levitt, a former Biden adviser on democracy issues and an expert on election policy. “I think that has helped it remain politically powerful, even if it has become untrue.”

Levitt said when noncitizens vote, it’s usually a misunderstanding or mistake. He said he recalled an example in which California residents were told they had been granted citizenship during the naturalization process and immediately left naturalization interviews to register to vote. However, they had not yet been formally sworn in as citizens and were therefore not yet eligible.

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This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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