COLUMBUS -- Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose on Thursday ordered the Greene County Board of Elections to reject non-citizen voter registrations and put measures in place ensuring only citizens are allowed to vote Nov. 3.
In the 2020 primary election, the Village of Yellow Springs approved a charter amendment that explicitly allowed non-citizens to register and vote in local elections.
The charter amendment violates the U.S. Constitution, which states:
"Every citizen of the United States, of the age of 18 years, who has been a resident of the state, county, township, or ward, such time as may be provided by law, and has been registered to vote for thirty days, has the qualifications of an elector, and is entitled to vote at all elections…
It also violates the Ohio Constitution, which states:
Every citizen of the United States who is of the age of 18 years or over and who has been a resident of the state 30 days immediately preceding the election at which the citizen offers to vote, is a resident of the county and precinct in which the citizen offers to vote, and has been registered to vote for 30 days, has the qualifications of an elector and may vote at all elections in the precinct in which the citizen resides.
The Village of Yellow Springs claims home rule allows them to make the decision to allow non-citizens to vote. However, the Ohio Constitution states municipalities may only exercise home rule powers “as are not in conflict with the general laws.” (Ohio Constitution, Article XVIII, § 3)
“Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any weirder, the village of Yellow Springs forces me as Ohio’s chief elections officer to restate the obvious - only U.S. citizens may vote,” LaRose said.
“Incredibly, I’m being put in a position where I need to remind a village here in Ohio that a vote is a sacred right which many have fought and bled to protect – but only a right that is earned by birth or the oath of citizenship. American citizenship is precious. It has value and with it comes the right and responsibility of being a voter.
"I won’t tolerate any local government who tries to subvert our laws, devalue American citizenship, and sow chaos in our elections," he said.
While those violations are certainly serious, the effort to undermine the constitution also poses a significant threat to any legal non-citizens who choose to register and vote this fall, LaRose said.
Because of the laws in place that don’t allow non-citizens to register or vote, non-citizens who attempt to vote this fall in Yellow Springs may be committing a felony, thereby inadvertently dashing their hopes of earning citizenship and even risking deportation.
The letter from LaRose directs the Greene County Board of Elections to 1) prohibit non-citizens from registering to vote; 2) by Aug. 3, cancel the voter registrations of any non-citizen residents of the Village of Yellow Springs who may have already registered to vote; 3) prohibit any non-citizen residents in the Village from voting on Yellow Springs ballot issues or for Yellow Springs candidates in any election in the Village which the Greene County Board of Elections is administering; and 4) not include in the tabulations, canvasses, or certifications of votes of any election administered by the Greene County Board of Elections the votes of any non-citizen residents in Yellow Springs, even if the election is held solely in the Village and the issues or candidates are limited solely to Village issues or elected offices.