Ohio Seeks To Become Latest State To Ban Noncitizen Voting

by | Oct 31, 2022 | Politics

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republicans in Ohio are promoting a measure on the Nov. 8 ballot that would prohibit noncitizens from voting in local elections, fighting back at what they see as a push for such access in liberal enclaves such as San Francisco and New York City.It would make Ohio the seventh state to take such a step if it passes and could motivate turnout among GOP voters in this year’s high-stakes midterm elections. The state also has a close race for a seat that will help determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.AdvertisementRepublican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the state’s elections chief, is championing State Issue 2, a proposal advanced by Ohio’s GOP-led state Legislature. It would make a tiny but pivotal wording change to the Ohio Constitution, from guaranteeing voting rights for “every citizen” of the U.S. who meets certain criteria to “only citizens” of the U.S. who do.LaRose, who is up for reelection, said most people had assumed that a prohibition in place since 1996 on noncitizen voting in federal and state elections also applied to local elections, though the law was silent on the matter. That was, until a “bad idea” crept in from the East and West coasts, he said.“It’s a bad idea to callously give away the right to vote to people that haven’t earned it,” LaRose said at an October news conference touting the issue. “I think that citizenship has value, citizenship has status. So many of our ancestors worked so hard to earn that citizenship.”As of 2020, six states — Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota and North Dakota — adopted the “only citizens” alternative in their state constitutions, according to the group Americans for Citizen Voting.AdvertisementLegal immigrants fighting for the right to vote in local elections invoke a similarly patriotic rallying cry, this one from the American Revolution. They say they pay taxes, yet can’t vote on offices such as mayor or city council or on levies for their kids’ schools.“We are all taxpayers,” said Melissa John, a New York City school teacher and green card holder who fought for the city’s noncitizen voting rights law, which passed in January but has since been put on hold by a judge.“So if my monies are going to be going into a system to fund and make changes in my immediate community, or wherever I teach or I work or I socialize, then I — and other individuals like myself — should be able to put our voice behind individuals that align with your philosophy,” she said.In Ohio, only one small town in modern times — liberal, 3,700-resident Yellow Springs — has approved a charter amendment allowing noncitizen voting on local candidates and issues. The amendment passed by referendum in 2019, but it was stopped by LaRose, who asserted that the program violated both the state and federal constitutions.Village leaders disagreed, said City Council President Brian Housh, but they didn’t have the resources to mount a legal challenge. They would have argued that expanding voting to noncitizens falls within Yellow Springs’ rights to home rule and local control, he said.AdvertisementLaRose said at the news conference that, besides defying …

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