On Wednesday, June 1, the Ohio State Senate voted unanimously to pass House Joint Resolution 4 (HJR4), placing it on the general election ballot for voters this November. It is the first measure to qualify for the Nov. 8 ballot in Ohio.
The measure would amend three sections of the Ohio Constitution—Section 1 of Article V, Section 3 of Article X, and Section 3 of Article XVIII. The language in Section 1, Article V would be changed from “Every citizen of the United States … is entitled to vote in all elections”, to “Only a citizen of the United States … is entitled to vote in all elections”.
This measure would prohibit non-citizens from voting in Ohio statewide or local elections.
HJR4 was first introduced on May 17, 2022, and was sponsored by Rep. Jay Edwards (R-94) and Rep. Bill Seitz (R-30). It passed the Ohio General Assembly a week later, on May 25, 2022.
“This is about the integrity of our elections,” Edwards said in a statement after HJR4 passed the Assembly, “Citizenship matters. We are being proactive to ensure our election laws are clear and unambiguous. I believe this is an issue most Ohioans, regardless of party affiliation, will support.”
Previously, the council of the Village of Yellow Springs, Ohio, passed a charter amendment to allow all residents who are at least 16 years old to vote in local elections, as well as allowing non-U.S. citizens to be eligible to vote. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose issued an order stating that non-citizens in the Village of Yellow Springs could not vote or register to vote.
Democrats and Republicans in the Ohio State Senate unanimously voted for the amendment to pass, while in the General Assembly, the vote was 68-28. All 28 ‘no’ votes were from Democratic assembly members, while 5 Democrats and 63 Republicans voted for the measure.
Secretary LaRose released the following statement after the Senate vote. “To reiterate, Ohio elections are only for Ohio citizens,” he stated, “The right to vote is sacrosanct and fundamental to what citizenship means in America and is why so many immigrate from around the world to the U.S., wait their turn in line, and go through the laborious citizenship process so they too can participate in this hallmark of democracy.”
Gary Daniels, Chief Lobbyist for the ACLU of Ohio, opposes the measure. “It is clear this latest effort has nothing to do with policy and everything to do with politics,” he stated, “Ohio law is explicit with regard to voter eligibility and citizenship, making HJR 4 and SJR 6 and the rush to put this matter on the ballot 100% unnecessary.”
This amendment joins three other voting-related ballot measures in other states certified for 2022 elections—in Alabama, Arizona, and Connecticut. The policies of these measures range from voter ID requirements for in-person and mail-in voting, such as the currently certified Arizona measure, or policies to authorize early voting, which is what a certified Connecticut measure would do.
In Ohio, a total of 26 legislatively referred constitutional amendments have been approved by voters, while 4 amendments have been defeated, since 1985.