Florida group announces it collected almost double the required signatures for citizen voting amendment
Sponsors of a Florida initiative that would amend the state constitution to state that only U.S. citizens are qualified to vote announced last week that they collected more than 1.5 million signatures to qualify the measure for the 2020 ballot. The group—Florida Citizen Voters—needs to submit 766,200 valid signatures by February 1, 2020.
The amendment would change the Florida Constitution to state, “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.” The state constitution currently uses the term “every citizen” instead of “only a citizen.”
A similar amendment is certified to appear on the ballot in Alabama in 2020.
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.
Voters in North Dakota decided 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. Voters approved that measure 66% to 34%. Currently, North Dakota is the only state that uses that phrase in its state constitution.
Voters in San Francisco approved a measure—Proposition N—in 2016 which allowed noncitizens to register to vote in school board elections. New York City allowed noncitizens 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 noncitizens to vote. Chicago has allowed noncitizens to vote and serve on its school councils since 1989.
Twenty-two statewide measures have been certified for the 2019 ballot in five states. In odd-numbered years from 2007 to 2017, an average of about 33 measures appeared on the ballot in an average of 8 states. In 2017, 27 statewide measures were certified.
Thirty-seven statewide measures have been certified for the 2020 ballot in 18 states.