Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley (OR) and Jon Ossoff (GA) challenged Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Tuesday after he suggested that automatic voter registration leads to massive election fraud.
During a Senate Rules Committee hearing on Tuesday, Cruz offered an amendment that would make automatic voter registration more difficult.
"We have many states that have established automatic voter registration," Merkley told Cruz. "Do you have any studies you want to present for the record that document extensive mistakes being made, which people who are non-citizens are registered to vote?"
Merkley noted that the Brennan Center for Justice has studied automatic voter registration and found that you are "more likely to be struck by lightning" than find widespread fraud.
"If you have evidence to the contrary, I think it would be an appropriate time to present it to the committee," Merkley said.
Cruz responded by deflecting.
"Sen. Merkley is one of the authors of the bill as I understand it," Cruz said. "I suppose I could ask why he saw fit to repeatedly immunize state officials from registering illegal immigrants if it were not that the obvious and intended effect of this bill was to register millions of illegal immigrants?"
"Does the senator have documentation he wishes to submit to the committee?" Merkley pressed.
"Sen. Merkley is declining to answer," Cruz said, ignoring the question.
Ossoff then gave Cruz another chance to provide "evidence" of his claim.
"I'd like to offer you the opportunity in good faith, Sen. Cruz, to present any evidence for the record to this committee that in any of the states where this policy exists, if there's any widespread registration by people who should not be eligible to vote," Ossoff said.
"I'm very glad that Democratic senators are suggesting illegal immigrants won't be registered to vote," Cruz replied. "If that's the case, you should support this amendment. Because this amendment would be supporting what you claim are the purposes of the bill."
Cruz's amendment was eventually defeated by a 9-9 vote along party lines.