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Secretary LaRose Issues Statement on Proposed Ohio Constitutional Amendment Reaffirming the Right to Vote is for U.S. Citizens Only

(Columbus) – Today, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose released the following statement after the introduction of joint resolutions in the Ohio Senate and House to propose an amendment to the Ohio Constitution prohibiting local governments from allowing non-U.S. citizens to vote in local elections. State Senator Lou Blessing and State Representatives Bill Seitz and Jay Edwards introduced the companion resolutions in their respective chambers.

“American elections are only for American citizens, and the cities in other states that have granted non-citizens the right to vote in local elections are undermining the value of what it means to be an American. I have presided over naturalization ceremonies and know that for newly sworn-in American citizens, securing the right to vote is a treasured achievement - a right they have worked hard to achieve. These new Americans know better than anyone that this precious right should not be cheapened by giving it away to those who haven't earned it.

“This is a smart preventative measure that will provide the certainty needed to ensure this right is protected for Ohioans. Make no mistake, efforts to give away voting rights to non-citizens have already been attempted here in Ohio. As recently as 2020, I was able to put a stop to a misguided effort by the Yellow Springs Village Council when they tried to bestow the precious right to vote to non-citizens.

“I fully support the General Assembly’s efforts to enshrine this fundamentally American democratic right in the Ohio Constitution, and I look forward to working with legislative leaders to allow Ohio voters the opportunity to affirm that the functioning order of our government across our state will be determined only by U.S. citizens.”

In 2020, the Village of Yellow Springs attempted to allow non-citizens the right to vote in local elections. In response, Secretary LaRose issued a directive to the Greene County Board of Elections which ordered the board to reject non-citizen voter registrations and put measures in place ensuring only citizens are allowed to vote. Read the press release about that directive.

As State Senator, Secretary LaRose introduced and won bipartisan approval of a bill that created Ohio’s online voter registration system. Included in that bill was a requirement for the Secretary of State to conduct an annual audit of voter data to expose and prevent any non-citizen voter activity. As Secretary of State, Secretary LaRose has referred hundreds of alleged non-citizen registrations and voting violations, as well as additional potential instances of voter fraud, to the Ohio Attorney General and County Prosecutors. At the same time, Ohio set a state voter turnout record in the 2020 election, highlighting how it’s easy to vote and hard to cheat in Ohio.

While it is of paramount importance that voting be protected as a right exclusively for American citizens, there would be additional and significant administrative challenges for Ohio’s Boards of Elections if localities were permitted to open elections to non-citizens. Because non-citizens could not vote in any statewide or federal elections, an entirely new voter registration system, as well as a completely different set of ballots would need to be created, maintained, and secured. In turn, this would create additional difficulties in terms of the reporting of election results.

If approved by three-fifths of both the House and Senate, the joint resolution introduced yesterday would head to Ohio voters on the November general election ballot. If a simple majority of the Ohio electorate approves it, the measure will amend the Ohio Constitution accordingly. Learn more about General Assembly Initiated Constitutional Amendments.

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