Rep. Walsh Proposes Federal ‘Proof Of Citizenship To Vote’ Law That Could Disenfranchise 15 Million Americans

A Republican congressman from Illinois praised a controversial new voting measure at a town hall last month, calling for a national version of the law that could disenfranchise millions.

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), who grabbed headlines for owing his ex-wife over $100,000 in child support and defending big banks against irate constituents, lauded the recent move by some states (Alabama, Kansas, and Tennessee) to require that voters present proof of citizenship before they are given a ballot. The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that seven percent of Alabama’s citizens — 240,000 people — do not possess proof of citizenship, such as a passport or a birth certificate, and could be disenfranchised.

But Walsh wasn’t content with just three states employing such laws. “I don’t know why we don’t mandate at the federal level that you have to show proof of citizenship to vote,” declared the Illinois freshman at a town hall in Palatine on February 25.

WALSH: This just seems really obvious to me. Federal law says only U.S. citizens can vote in federal elections. We typically make this a state-by-state issue, but I don’t know why we don’t enforce that at the federal level. I don’t know why we don’t mandate at the federal level that you have to show proof of citizenship to vote.

Watch it, courtesy of YouTube user IL08RawFootage:

Perhaps Walsh’s proposal would have some merit if a widespread problem of non-citizens trying to vote actually existed. In reality, there is absolutely no hint of a whiff of a problem with non-Americans voting in American elections. Facing prison, a serious fine, and deportation if caught, why would a non-citizen possibly risk all that in order to cast a single vote?

This phantom prospect of voter fraud is the sole justification conservatives use to rationalize stripping the right to vote from millions of citizens. If the Brennan Center’s estimate for the disenfranchisement rate in Alabama is similar across the country, at least 15 million Americans could be disenfranchised in this year’s presidential election were Walsh’s vision to become reality.