In the U.S. state of Ohio, voters are being asked on their midterm election ballots to vote on the very issue of voting, specifically if tax-paying legal immigrants without U.S. citizenship should be allowed to vote in local elections.
State Issue 2, a proposal advanced to the ballot by Ohio’s Republican-led state Legislature would amend wording in 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. The measure seeks to prohibit noncitizen residents from voting.
Noncitizen voting was prohibited in federal and state elections in 1996, but the law was silent on local elections.Six states have already adopted “only citizens” measures in their state constitutions.
Advocates of legal immigrants being allowed to cast votes in local elections, say if you pay taxes in a municipality, you should have a political voice there.Opponents of noncitizen voting say U.S. citizenship is earned, and there should not be shortcuts to the privileges.
The U.S. state of Maryland has 11 of the 15 municipalities in the U.S. that have approved noncitizen voting.
The cities of New York, NY, San Francisco, CA and two towns in Vermont also allow noncitizens to vote.
Opponents of noncitizen voting are concerned that a trend that began in a few small towns is catching on in bigger cities.
In New York City, more than 800,000 noncitizens and “Dreamers” (those brought to the U.S. as children) will be able to vote under its new law.
The city council in the District of Columbia, a city of more than 700,000, voted in October to allow noncitizen voting.