Congressman Doc Hastings For and Against New Voter Citizenship Bill - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Congressman Doc Hastings For and Against New Voter Citizenship Bill

KENNEWICK, Wash.- Washington Congressman Doc Hastings is helping push a bill that would help prevent people who are not American citizens from voting.

Congressman Hastings thinks we need to take action to ensure only Americans are voting, but he isn't quite ready to vote for the "Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006," not until it addresses the needs of vote-by-mail states like Washington and Oregon.

The bill in front of the U.S. Congress would require voters who mail in ballots to attach a photocopy of their ID to their ballot, but Congressman Doc Hastings thinks this could create problems.

"You're asking people to mail essentially their ID. Now, one can only speculate as to what could happen if that identity is stolen or lost in some way," Congressman Hastings said. 

Right now, people can vote without showing any ID or proof of citizenship, they were required to do that while registering.

"If they check 'Yes' they are a citizen, there's places on the voter registration form for their Washington driver's license number as well if they don't have that, the last four digits of their Social Security number," said Benton County Auditor Bobbie Gagner.

While the new law would help ensure only Americans are voting, some local leaders think it just reiterates old laws.

"It just seems like another level of bureaucracy that is not necessary, but, you know, our job in elections is to implement the law, and we'll wait to see if this goes through the senate, and if it does, we'll deal with it after it's implemented," said Franklin County Auditor Zona Lenhart. 

Though it is already illegal for non-citizens to vote, election officials say prevention is pretty minimal.

"If they check 'Yes,' they're a citizen and the have a Washington driver's license and Social Security Card, I don't know where you'd go beyond that," Gagner said. 

The new bill is in committee right now, and Congressman Hastings says if changes aren't made to accommodate Washington's vote-by-mail system, he will vote against the final bill.

Voting illegally in the State of Washington could land you in jail.

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