Virginia House passes bill requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote

Virginia’s House of Delegates passed a bill on Wednesday requiring voters to provide proof of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote in state and local elections.


HB 1598, sponsored by Del. Mark Cole, does not extend the proof-of-citizenship requirement to federal elections.

“I would have made it a requirement for any election; however there is a federal court ruling that says you cannot require proof of citizenship for federal elections, which really makes no sense to me,” Cole said.

Registration lists would indicate whether each voter is registered to vote in federal, state, and local elections or in federal elections only.


The bill also directs the Department of Elections to use the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program to verify that registered voters are U.S. citizens.


“Committing a felony to vote in an election is something that no non-citizen in their right mind would do,” Democrat Del. Mark Sickles argued in opposition to the bill. Sickles might be surprised to learn that, in fact, non-citizens have registered and voted in Virginia, and there’s no record of any of them being prosecuted.


The bill now goes to the Senate, but if passed is all but certain to be vetoed by Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe.