Florida Citizen Voters announces collecting 1.5 million signatures for 2020 initiative to require Florida voters to be U.S. citizens

On July 11, 2019, Florida Citizen Voters, sponsors of Florida Initiative 18-14, announced having collected more than 1.5 million signatures to qualify the initiative for the 2020 ballot. To qualify for the ballot, 766,200 valid signatures must be submitted by February 1, 2020.
 
This measure would amend the Florida Constitution to state that only citizens of the United States are qualified electors in Florida.
 
Constitution as it presently exists: Every citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered.
Proposed change under the ballot measure: Only a citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered.
 
A similar amendment is certified to appear on the ballot in Alabama in 2020.
 
Voters in North Dakota decided on a similar measure, Measure 2, in 2018. The measure amended the North Dakota Constitution to state that “only a citizen” rather than “every citizen” of the U.S. can vote in federal, state, and local elections. Measure 2 was approved by a vote of 66% to 34%.
 
Voters in San Francisco approved a measure, Proposition N, in 2016 which allowed non-citizens to register to vote in school board elections. New York City allowed non-citizens to vote in local school board elections from 1968 to 2003 until the city abolished elected school boards. As of 2019, 11 cities in Maryland, including Hyattsville, Mount Rainier, and Takoma Park allowed non-citizens to vote. Chicago has allowed noncitizens to vote and serve on its school councils since 1989.
 
All state constitutions mention United States citizenship when discussing the qualifications of an elector. Twenty-one (21) states use the specific phrase “Every citizen of the United States…” when discussing who is a qualified elector. An additional 16 states use the word “every” but structure the sentence differently. Six states use the word “all” or “any” when discussing citizenship and suffrage. Six other states have some other way of phrasing the sentence. As of June 2019, North Dakota was the only state to use the phrase “Only a citizen of the United States…” after having changed it from “every” via a constitutional amendment in 2018.
 
Map key:
Purple: “Only a citizen of the United States…”
Dark green: “Every citizen of the United States…”
Light green: Uses the term “every”
Dark blue: Uses the terms “any” or “all”
Grey: Unique language concerning citizenship and suffrage
 
Additional reading:
 
 

 




About the author

Jackie Mitchell

Jackie Mitchell is a state ballot measures staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at jackie.mitchell@ballotpedia.org

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