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House Advances Proposed Constitutional Amendment to Prohibit Non-Citizen Voting

May 25, 2022
Jay Edwards News

COLUMBUS - A proposed constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters, would prohibit non-citizens from voting in Ohio elections has been approved by the Ohio House of Representatives.

The measure, House Joint Resolution 4, would close a loophole that could allow non-citizens to vote on local candidates and tax issues in cities and villages. Lawmakers are working to place the issue before Ohio voters on the November 2022 ballot.

The measure is sponsored by House Majority Leader Bill Seitz (R-Green Township) and State Representative Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville). 

“With our vote today, we are giving Ohio’s voters a very clear choice,” Seitz said. “They can either decide that Ohio should imitate New York and San Francisco by allowing non-citizens to vote, or that Ohio reserves its voting rights only to qualified citizens. I am confident in their judgement.”

The resolution now goes to the Senate for consideration. 

The Ohio Constitution provides home rule authority to municipalities and chartered counties. This could potentially be misused to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections. 

Edwards said the question before lawmakers – and ultimately, the question that would go before Ohio voters in November – is whether or not non-citizens should be allowed to vote in Ohio elections.

“This is about the integrity of our elections,” Edwards said. “Citizenship matters. We are being proactive to ensure our election laws are clear and unambiguous. I believe this is an issue most Ohioans, regardless of party affiliation, will support.”

The measure’s supporters include Ohio’s chief elections officer, Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

Several communities around the country, including New York and San Francisco, have taken action to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections.

In 2020, the Ohio village of Yellow Springs adopted an ordinance allowing non-citizens to vote. LaRose ruled that non-citizens in the community could neither register to vote nor vote. A future secretary of state, however, may view the issue differently, underscoring the need for the change to the Ohio Constitution. 

The proposed constitutional amendment would not impact federal elections as Congress is responsible for setting the requirements for voting in federal elections. In 1996, Congress passed a law making it a crime for a non-citizen to vote in a federal election.