On Sept. 19, the Florida Division of Elections reported that the Citizen Requirement for Voting Initiative had qualified for the November 2020 ballot. The measure is sponsored by Florida Citizen Voters and has the support of the national Citizen Voters Inc. Florida Citizen Voters submitted 927,662 valid signatures. To qualify the measure for the ballot, 766,200 valid signatures were required. The measure was originally Initiative #18-14 and will appear on the ballot as Amendment 1.
This measure would amend the Florida Constitution to state that only citizens of the United States are qualified electors in Florida.
Currently, the state constitution 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.”
Under the amendment, that constitutional provision would read: “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.”
According to the most recent campaign finance reports available, Florida Citizen Voters reported $2.45 million in cash contributions and $5.84 million in in-kind contributions, all from Citizen Voters, Inc. Between January and July 2019, Florida Citizen Voters reported cash and in-kind expenditures paid to the petition gathering company Let the Voters Decide totaling $7.86 million.
A similar amendment is certified to appear on the ballot in Alabama in 2020. Similar initiatives targeting the 2020 ballot were also filed in Colorado and Maine.
Voters in North Dakota approved the same proposal, 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%.
Citizenship is a requirement for voting in most elections in the U.S. 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 non-citizens 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.
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