Noncitizen voters focus of state Issue 2
- Published: November 6, 2022
Voters in the Nov. 8 Ohio election will decide on a ballot issue that would constitutionally disallow noncitizen voters from participating in local elections, if passed.
The measure began as a joint resolution in the Ohio House and Senate, and was introduced by Republican legislators, who wanted to ensure that Ohio’s Constitution was clear on noncitizen voting after the Village of Yellow Springs passed a charter amendment in 2020 that would allow noncitizens to participate in local elections.
Since the state Legislature has been discussing Issue 2, Yellow Springs Village Council President Brian Housh has spoken out against the proposal, calling it a deterioration of home rule, a provision in the Ohio Constitution that allows individual municipalities to adopt rules through their individual charters. In an emailed statement to the News, Housh said Issue 2 is a “political stunt” and a “solution in search of a problem.”
“[Issue 2] takes Ohio further down a path to discourage talented individuals and innovative businesses to come to our state,” Housh said.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has spoken against noncitizen voting since Yellow Springs passed its charter amendment in 2020. At the time, he said that the Ohio and U.S. constitutions were clear on who was able to cast ballots in state, federal and local elections. In a 2020 letter, LaRose instructed the Greene County Board of Elections to turn away any noncitizens from Yellow Springs attempting to register to vote. The letter read, in part:
“The new Yellow Springs charter provision that seeks to allow aliens to vote for Yellow Springs issues and candidates not only conflicts with a state statute, it conflicts with one of the most fundamental provisions of Ohio’s Constitution.”
In a May 2022 press release, LaRose said that municipalities allowing noncitizens to vote “cheapens” the right to vote.
“American elections are only for American citizens, and the cities in other states that have granted noncitizens the right to vote in local elections are undermining the value of what it means to be an American,” LaRose said.
Housh said that disallowing the noncitizen vote also discourages people from becoming involved in their communities, pointing to other municipalities with similar charter amendments.
“Yellow Springs is a community that believes more diverse input leads to better outcomes,’’ Housh said. “Increased voter participation means more balanced, less partisan decisions that improve the quality of life for all Ohioans.”
Though Yellow Springs may be the only Ohio municipality to have a charter amendment allowing noncitizen voting rights, there are municipalities that do throughout the country, including San Francisco; New York City; Montpelier and Winooski, Vermont; and nine cities in Maryland.