Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., holds a news conference with Donald Trump on April 12, 2024, at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. Wilfredo Lee/AP

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When facing potential removal by strict conservatives in April, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) journeyed to Mar-a-Lago to back Donald Trump’s misleading claims of widespread voter deception.

Under the pretense of preventing nonresidents from participating in federal elections, a bill dubbed as the SAVE Act was approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday. This bill mandates documentary proof of citizenship, like a passport or birth certificate, for voter registration. It merges two key components of the MAGA agenda: anti-immigrant fear and voter fraud paranoia. While this bill isn’t likely to be enacted with Democrats controlling the Senate and presidency, it serves as a sinister peek into the suppressive policies Trump and his GOP cohorts might pursue if they regain full governance of Washington post-November.

All data indicates that noncitizen registration or voting in U.S. elections is exceedingly rare. The Brennan Center for Justice investigated 42 jurisdictions in 2016, encompassing 23 million people, including areas with high noncitizen populations, and identified merely 30 suspected instances of noncitizen voting, equivalent to only 0.0001 percent of all votes. A 2022 audit in Georgia by the Republican secretary of state disclosed that over a 25-year span, only 1,600 noncitizens attempted to register to vote, but none succeeded.

Even Johnson acknowledges the absence of evidence supporting the fraud he purports to combat. “We all have a gut feeling that many undocumented individuals vote in federal elections,” stated Johnson in a May media briefing. “However, it’s challenging to prove. We lack concrete numbers.”

If Trump and his allies regain control, they will transform his Falsehood into policies that will result in the most significant reduction in ballot accessibility in decades.

However, the risk of voter disenfranchisement from citizenship documentation laws is quantifiable. According to a recent study by the Brennan Center and other voting rights organizations, about 9% of American citizens, roughly 21 million people, lack easy access to citizenship papers.

“Furthermore, our estimates might downplay the actual impact,” the Brennan Center noted in its latest research. “While many Americans can acquire these documents, we don’t typically carry our passport or birth certificate around. If these documents were obligatory for voter registration, most citizens wouldn’t readily have them available when encountering registration drives at schools, religious institutions, or other communal spaces.”‘

When Kansas implemented a citizenship verification law in 2011, it obstructed 1 in 7 new registrants, amounting to over 31,000 individuals, from registering successfully. Nearly half of these were under the age of 30. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, viewing the law as a potential nationwide standard, alleged that noncitizen voting was widespread, yet he only substantiated seven convictions for such allegations in Kansas over 13 years. In 2018, a federal court invalidated the law, with Judge Julie Robinson remarking that Kobach’s showcased instances of voter deceit were only “an icicle,” contrary to his portrayal of them being “the tip of the iceberg.”

Nevertheless, states ruled by Republicans are proceeding with analogous measures following Trump’s directives. Louisiana and recently New Hampshire passed citizenship documentation laws. Despite some apprehensions voiced by the state’s Republican governor, they are advancing with these measures.

If the SAVE Act is approved nationwide as Johnson and Trump aspire, it could impede hundreds of thousands of Americans from registering, or possibly more. President Joe Biden has promised to veto the SAVE Act. “The alleged justification for this bill is based on easily disproven falsehoods,” he highlighted in a statement. Nevertheless, this is just the inception of the GOP’s voter suppression agenda.

The newly published RNC manifesto advocates for the reinstatement of “same day voting,” signifying an end to advance voting in the 47 states offering pre-Election Day ballot casting. Should Trump and his supporters regain authority, they will convert his Fabrication into enactments that will result in the most significant restriction of ballot access in decades.