Georgia’s top election official wants state lawmakers to change the state constitution so that only American citizens can vote in municipal elections.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger recently became the first Georgian to sign a petition calling for that amendment to the state constitution.
“I understand how important it is to have the right to vote,” Raffensperger said during a press conference. “People have fought for it and marched for it. It’s a very important right and when people go through the lawful process if they weren’t born here, they really value American citizenship.” Raffensperger said.
An official with the ACLU of Georgia called Raffensperger’s push to amend Georgia’s law “irresponsible and completely unnecessary.”
“This is already enshrined in U.S. federal law,” ACLU Policy Director Chris Bruce told Atlanta Civic Circle. “The United States Constitution only permits citizens to vote in federal elections and the state law bars any person from voting in primary or election held in Georgia if they are not a citizen of Georgia or the United States. The Secretary of State is focusing more on issues that really don’t exist. It’s an answer in search of a problem.”
But Raffensperger said in a statement that an amendment is necessary.
“First, noncitizens shouldn’t have a hand in laws that govern citizens, ” he said. “Second, it would create confusion about who can vote because federal elections are restricted to citizens, so noncitizens would be able to vote in some races but not others.”
The issue comes just weeks before Georgia heads into its early voting period for November’s upcoming municipal elections. The earliest Georgia voters could see such a constitutional question about this issue on their ballots would be November 2022.
Meanwhile, the head of a voting-integrity group is troubled by legislative efforts in other parts of the country that would make voting by noncitizens possible.
“From Maine to California and everywhere in between including Clarkston, Ga., there is a growing movement in this country to permit noncitizens with green cards to vote legally, in our elections” Christopher Arps, president of Americans for Citizens Voting, said. “Voting is a sacred right of citizenship and it must be strictly reserved for citizens and citizens only. No exceptions.”
Arps’ group was present at Raffensperger’s press conference.
Legislation is currently being considered in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Texas to allow those here legally with green cards to vote, Arps said. Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, Portland, Me, and other cities also are considering similar bills, Arps noted in a video on the group’s website.
In 2010, Colorado’s Secretary of State reported nearly 5,000 5,000 ineligible non citizen voter registrations, Arp noted.
Alabama, Colorado, Florida and North Dakota have put “clear citizen-only voting provisions into their state constitutions.” he added.
“Concerted efforts must be made through education, legislation and constitutional ballot initiatives to reserve voting for American citizens only,” Arps said in the video.