Florida voters to decide 2020 ballot measure requiring voter citizenship
I hope you were able to join us yesterday for our webinar about 2020 ballot measures. ICYMI, here’s a link to the recording. One of the topics we discussed was whether voters in multiple states would decide constitutional amendments making citizenship a requirement to vote.
The Florida Division of Elections reported September 19 that the Citizen Requirement for Voting Initiative—sponsored by Florida Citizen Voters—qualified for the 2020 ballot. This measure would amend the Florida Constitution to state that only citizens of the United States are qualified to vote.
The state constitution currently reads, “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.” If approved, the ballot measure would change that section 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.”
Voters in North Dakota approved a similar measure in 2018. That 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. It was approved by a vote of 66% to 34%. A similar amendment is certified to appear on the ballot in Alabama in 2020.
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 noncitizens to vote in local school board elections from 1968 to 2003 until the city abolished elected school boards. Members of the New York City Board of Education are now appointed by the mayor and five borough presidents. As of 2019, 11 cities in Maryland, including Hyattsville, Mount Rainier, and Takoma Park allowed non-citizens to vote.
All state constitutions mention United States citizenship when discussing voting qualifications. Here are five additional facts about statewide constitutions.
Twenty-one 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.
North Dakota is currently the only state to use the phrase “Only a citizen of the United States…” after having changed it from “every” via Measure 2 in 2018.
The map below shows the specific language used in state constitutions regarding citizenship and voter qualification:
- 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