The top election officials of all 50 states were sent letters Monday encouraging them to seek from the Biden administration’s Department of Homeland Security the information required to properly crosscheck state voter rolls and ensure noncitizens are not registered to vote in federal elections before November. 

America First Legal (AFL), a conservative nonprofit, said it sent a letter to the top election official of every state and a copy to every governor and state attorney general, advising them of “two critical tools” that exist under existing federal law “that Congress has provided to verify the citizenship status of individuals registered to vote in your State.” The letters cite federal statues 8 U.S.C. § 1373 and 8 U.S.C. § 1644, specifically. 

“These tools, codified in federal law for decades, allow you to submit requests for information to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about an individual’s citizenship or immigration status for any lawful purpose. This includes an inquiry where you have reason to believe that a given individual who is registered to vote might not be a United States citizen,” Gene Hamilton, executive director, America First Legal Foundation, wrote in a seven-page letter sent to each state. “Given the unprecedented levels of illegal immigration since January 20, 2021, the need for action could not be greater, and the stakes could not be higher. If you act now, there is likely still time to conduct legally sound voter list maintenance and remove ineligible foreign nationals from your State’s voter rolls before the fall elections.” 

Under federal law, foreign nationals are prohibited from voting or registering to vote in federal elections, but states have the obligation to conduct voter list maintenance and ensure ineligible people are removed. 


NYC polling place

A voter casts his ballot at a polling station in Rye, New York, on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. (Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The nonprofit noted that the federal voter registration form created by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) does not require applicants to demonstrate documentary proof of citizenship. The form merely requires voter registrants to sign a pledge “under penalty of perjury,” swearing or affirming that “I am a United States citizen.”

The U.S. Supreme Court, as America First Legal explained, previously held that because the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993 requires that states must “accept and use” the EAC form, then “the NVRA forbids States to demand that an applicant submit additional information beyond that required by the Federal Form.” 

DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does make available to states a system for verifying the immigration status of foreign nationals known as the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program. But America First Legal stressed that “SAVE has a design flaw and does not fully solve the critical problem of foreign nationals voting in federal elections.” 

Most notably, SAVE requires users to submit an Alien Registration Number or some other DHS identifier to run queries through the system – something that states and localities do not have when registering someone to vote. Furthermore, SAVE does not process Social Security or driver’s license numbers, which are the ID numbers that state and local officials are most likely to have at their disposal. 

“Thus, in practice, SAVE is practically useless for verifying the citizenship of voter registrants,” the letter says. “It can only be of value when a State has the specific numeric identifiers that are the searchable variables in SAVE. Most States would not have access to these identifiers, in part because none of these identifiers are required under the current version of the EAC federal voter registration form. States cannot use the most readily available identifiers they have in their possession, including social security and driver’s license numbers.” 

The letter proposed a solution: “States should submit requests to DHS to verify the citizenship or immigration status of registered voters on voter rolls – and DHS has a legal obligation to provide such information.” 

Vote here sign in NYC

A sign directs people to the voting site at Bronx County Supreme Court House during the Democratic primary on June 25, 2024, in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The nonprofit argues that requests citing federal statutes 1373 and 1644 “require DHS to search for specific individuals using any available information such as a name and date of birth.”

“Based on the information you receive in response, you can take further steps consistent with applicable law to ensure that only U.S. citizens remain on your voter rolls. Congress has imposed upon DHS a mandatory obligation to respond to lawful inquiries about an individual’s citizenship or immigration status. Should DHS refuse or fail to provide this information, you can initiate legal action to obtain it,” the letter says. 


Last month, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, introduced the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act, which, if passed, would require states to obtain proof of citizenship – in person – when registering an individual to vote, and require states to remove noncitizens from existing voter rolls. America First Legal said that while such bills aiming to reform the NVRA “are essential to protect the integrity of our elections,” Monday’s letter “provides something that States can do NOW until legislation like the SAVE Act becomes law.”

Fox News Digital reached out to the White House and the Department of Homeland Security for comment on Tuesday. 

Santa Ana voting place

A man makes his way to vote in Santa Ana, California, on “Super Tuesday,” March 5, 2024. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

America First Legal president Stephen Miller said the letters come in “response to this extraordinary threat to our elections,” providing the election officials in all 50 states with an “emergency action plan” that explains “the steps they can immediately pursue to defend democracy by purging their voting rolls of illegal aliens and non-citizens.” 


“States have the utmost authority, obligation, and expectation from the American people to prevent noncitizens from voting in elections,” Hamilton added in a statement. “Congress has equipped States with the tools necessary to verify the citizenship status of registered voters and remove ineligible foreign nationals – but States must act swiftly to ensure that only citizens vote in this fall’s elections. Failing to use these available tools is an abdication of the responsibility to ensure our elections are decided solely by, and for, the American people.” 

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