COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – When you’re voting this November, you will see an issue about citizenship on your ballot.
House Joint Resolution 4 passed out of the Ohio Senate and House; it’s a proposed constitutional amendment that would only allow United States citizens to vote in local elections.
“I believe that this is another attempt at suppressing the vote and keeping individuals from being able to participate in their local community,” State Representative Bishara Addison (R-Shaker Heights) said.
“Citizenship should matter. When you think about it, if you’re not a citizen, you technically have a foreign allegiance,” State Senator Louis Blessing (R-Colerain Twp.) said.
This resolution sparked after Yellow Springs, Ohio passed a referendum allowing non-citizens to vote in their local elections. If the bill passes in the fall, it will clarify the home rule provision in the Ohio Constitution, taking away the possibility for local municipalities to hold such a vote again.
“This simply closes that loophole and says no you must be a U.S. citizen to vote in state and local elections in Ohio,” Blessing said.
Addison said there are many ways in which someone can legally live in Ohio, but not be a U.S. citizen, and she said in most cases, they’re paying taxes.
“If you’re paying taxes, you should have a say in what’s happening in your local community,” Addison said.
“Why not allow those persons [non-citizens] who are productive people and members of our society to vote on local issues,” Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) said.
Addison said school board elections are a good example of an important local vote, she said if you have a child in the district, you should have a say in their education.
Blessing uses countries like France and Germany as an example, where you can go work and pay taxes, but you cannot vote if you’re not a citizen.
“It just boils down to the health of a nation and the health of a state is based on its citizenry, and only its citizenry, having the right to vote,” Blessing said.
“I don’t believe Europe has the same sort of trend where we’re actively finding different ways to restrict voting rights,” Bishara said.
If this resolution passes, it will take effect immediately for the next local election.