On June 1st, Republicans State Reps. Jay Edwards and Bill Seitz in the Ohio General Assembly have introduced a joint resolution calling for a constitutional amendment preventing local governments from allowing non-U.S. citizens to vote in local elections.
“In 2020, the Village of Yellow Springs exposed ambiguity in Ohio’s Constitution when it attempted to allow non-citizens the right to vote in local elections,” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said in a statement. “Without the clarity provided in the Amendment, future Secretaries of State might choose to agree to bestow the precious, uniquely American right to vote to people who are not American citizens.”
It is already illegal for non-citizens to vote in state and federal elections but it is not as clear cut for local areas.“Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any weirder, the village of Yellow Springs forces me as Ohio’s chief elections officer to restate the obvious – only US citizens may vote,” LaRose said
The proposal is a reaction to a New York policy that will allow roughly 800,000 noncitizens to vote for mayor, City Council and other local races – something Republican lawmakers don’t want to see in Ohio.
Democrats in the House were more reluctant to cast their votes for the controversial amendment to the state constitution, with 28 out of 35 voting no (the bill passed 68-28).
“It absolutely is a preventative measure,” state Sen. Bill Blessing, R-Colerain Township, said. “I’m sure there are a lot of people in New York that would’ve never envisioned this happening, and here we are.”
Rep. Edwards (R-Nelsonville), co-sponsor of the bill, said Ohio voters need to make this change to the constitution.
“This is about the integrity of our elections and point blank, citizenship should matter,” Edwards said.
Democrats, like Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), said this is an effort by majority Republicans to put a hot-button issue on the ballot in November to turn out their voters.
“It’s an effort to promote a narrative that our elections are faulty. It’s also an effort to tap into fear and it’s a political game,” Lepore-Hagan said.
A simple majority of Ohio voters this fall is required for the proposal to become an amendment to the state Constitution.
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