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Effort to bar counting of noncitizens in electoral representation passes US House


Carolina Journal

The US House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday that would prevent noncitizens from being included in the population count that determines the nationwide distribution of House seats and Electoral College votes. 

Led by North Carolina Congressman Chuck Edwards, R-11, the Equal Representation Act passed in a narrow 206-202 vote. The legislation would exclude noncitizens from being counted in determining the apportionment of representatives and Electoral Votes. 

The census measures the nation’s demographics and population changes every 10 years, which affects state representation in elections. The 435 seats in the US House of Representatives and the 538 Electoral College votes are allocated based on census counts. Following the 2020 census, North Carolina gained one seat in the House. 

However, as the Census Bureau website states, “all people (citizens and noncitizens) with a usual residence in the United States are included in the resident population for the census.” Criteria for the 2020 census show that individuals in the US at the time of the census are counted based on where they usually sleep and live.  As record-high levels of undocumented immigrants flood into the US, they are entitled to fill out the census, ultimately swinging congressional districts. 

“Our democracy depends on accurate representation and electoral integrity,” Edwards said on the House floor. “Voting is a coveted privilege held by American citizens, and elected representatives are responsible for serving the interests of the voters in their district. But even if not a single illegal alien casts a vote, the mere presence of illegal immigrants in the US is having a profound impact on the outcome of elections, skewing the representation of Americans.”

Edwards pointed out that from 1820 to 1960, the census did ask a citizenship question, but he said it was removed because the effect of illegal immigration was negligible at the time. However, with historic levels of illegal immigration being a top concern among Americans today, the influx of illegal immigrants could have significant consequences on representation. 

“Since the illegal alien population is not evenly distributed throughout the nation, American citizens in some states are losing representation in Congress to illegal aliens in other states,” he added.

A 2019 study by the Center for Immigration Studies estimates illegal immigrants and non-citizens who have not naturalized and do not have the right to vote impact the allocation of 26 separate House seats.

Meanwhile, North Carolina state legislators are looking to close voting loopholes in the current legislative session that leave the door open for noncitizen voting. They argue that the state Constitution is silent on whether noncitizens can vote, which could be taken advantage of one day.

Three state senators introduced a bill last year that would modify the language to explicitly state that American citizens are entitled to vote. The effort would need to be approved by North Carolinians through a ballot referendum.

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