(Atlanta) – Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is being joined by a national voting-integrity group in his call for an amendment to the Georgia constitution that prohibits anyone from voting who isn’t a citizen of the United States.
“Only American citizens should be allowed to cast a ballot. We can’t run the risk that special interests one day succeed in giving noncitizens a say in our laws, taxes and representatives the way they have in other states,” he said. “I have worked hard to ensure foreign elements cannot alter our elections through cyberterrorism, so I’m certainly opposed to letting them influence our elections through voting.”
He is calling for the General Assembly to pass a citizenship voting amendment and putting it on the ballot next year for ratification by Georgia voters. That way it could only be repealed with the support of that same majority. It would be stronger than protections currently in place. There is a citizenship requirement in Georgia law which could be erased by a simple majority of a future legislature one day.
During a Capitol news conference Thursday, Raffensperger signed a petition to support an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that would clarify that all voters are to be Citizens of United States. Raffensperger was joined by the Americans for Citizen Voting President Christopher Arps, immigration attorney Jasha McQueen, and Georgia voter Ken Hand.
“Voting is a sacred responsibility for American citizens, and everyone should agree that only American citizens should vote,” said Raffensperger. “I call on my fellow Georgia citizens to sign this petition and work with their legislators to get this amendment passed by the General Assembly and on the ballot.”
The online petition is available at OnlyCitizens.Vote .
Like most state constitutions, Georgia’s Constitution allows for citizens of the United States to vote but does not prevent non-citizens from voting as well. Arizona and Minnesota have precluded non-citizens from voting for decades but Alabama, Colorado, Florida, and North Dakota have recently passed amendments by wide margins to provide that only citizens of the United States may vote in local, state, and school board elections.
There is a growing movement in various states to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections. Raffensperger said that is unsound policy for two reasons. First, noncitizens shouldn’t have a hand in laws that govern citizens. Second, it would create confusion about who can vote because federal elections are restricted to citizens, so noncitizens would be able to vote in some races but not others.
“From Maine to California, and everywhere in between including Clarkston, Georgia, there is a growing movement in this country to permit non-citizens with green cards to vote legally in our elections,” said Arps, president of the nonpartisan Americans for Citizen Voting which is advocating for the petition. “Voting is a sacred right of citizenship and it must be strictly reserved for citizens and citizens only. NO exceptions.”
Non-citizen voting is already allowed in California, Illinois, Maryland, and Vermont.
“Citizen-only voting is not a new or discriminatory idea. The majority of countries in the world have citizen-only voting,” said McQueen, an immigration attorney and second-generation immigrant. “It maintains the integrity of and faith in a system for those who stand something to lose.”
Ordinary Georgians agree, according to Hand, a retired logistics worker from Cumming, Ga.
“As a Georgian and a concerned voter, I agree with Americans for Citizens Voting,” he said. “We need to take commonsense steps to ensure that ONLY U.S. citizens can vote in U.S. elections.”
An amendment to clarify that only citizens of the United States are allowed to vote in Georgia would need to pass both chambers of the legislature by 2/3 majority and then be approved by a majority of Georgia voters during the 2022 general election.