Election integrity has become a more politicized topic of debate in recent years, and that issue is at the center of one of the statewide issues Ohio voters will consider this November.
Issue 2 gives voters the choice of approving or rejecting a Constitutional Amendment that would only allow for U.S. citizens to vote in any state or local election in Ohio. Any such voter would have to be at least 18 years of age and be a registered voter for at least 30 days in order to vote. The issue would also, if passed, prohibit any local governments from allowing a person to vote in a local election if that person is not legally qualified to vote in a state election.
The primary change would come in Section 1 of Article V of the state Constitution, changing the first sentence from, “Every citizen above the age of eighteen years, who has been a resident of the state, county, township, or ward, such time as may be provided by law, and has been registered to vote for thirty days, has the qualifications of an elector, and is entitled to vote at all elections” to instead begin with, “Only a citizen.”
After the list of qualifications for voters, the amendment would add, “No person who lacks those qualifications shall be permitted to vote at any state or local election held in this state,” and it also changes some gendered language at the end of that section, changing the generic “he” to “the elector.” The amendment would also change language in other articles pertaining to county and municipal elections to adhere to these same requirements.
Arguments in favor
The certified argument in favor of Issue 2, as published by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, says that this amendment would bring Ohio more in line with federal voting requirements.
“Federal law restricts voting in federal elections only to U.S. citizens, but nothing currently contained in the Ohio Constitution prevents a future state legislature or any Ohio city or Charter County from extending the voting rights to non-citizens,” the argument reads. “This amendment would close that loophole.”
The argument goes on to cite how a number of U.S. cities, including New York City and San Francisco, have permitted non-citizens to vote in local elections, saying that this action “degrades the value of United States citizenship and is poor public policy.”
These sentiments have been echoed by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who has been promoting the issue to various groups in the state, saying in one Twitter post, “American elections are for American citizens.”
The certified argument against Issue 2 maintains that this language would actually endanger Ohio citizens’ ability to vote, rather than secure it. By removing “every” out of the constitution, that article regarding voting would lack inclusiveness, replacing it with “restrictive words that will lock into our constitution new deliberate barriers to voting.”
“Its new restrictions threaten our 17-year-olds’ longstanding right to vote in primary elections,” the argument reads. “It locks in a 30-day No-Voter-Registration-Allowed blackout period before elections, before many people are even thinking about voting yet.”
Another group opposing Issue 2 is the ACLU of Ohio. In an Oct. 6 Twitter post, the agency described Issue 2 as “fodder for conspiracy theorists and election deniers,” and that it “gives the false impression that Ohio elections are not secure, doubling down on the rhetoric that led to a mob storming the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6.”
During a recent visit to Lima, NAACP Ohio Conference President Tom Roberts expressed his personal opposition to Issue 2.
“That came about as a result of Yellow Springs, Ohio saying to their non-citizens that they could vote on city ordinance,” he said.
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0391 or on Twitter @cmkelly419.