New York just passed a law to allow legal, permanent residents to vote in city elections. Two cities in Vermont and nine in Maryland also enable non-citizens to partake in local elections. Georgia, the “safe haven” of voting rights as of late, already has a law on the books to prevent non-citizens from voting, but a late push by the state senate committee wanted to add this to the state constitution.
According to the Associated Press, Senate Resolution 363 failed to gain the two-thirds majority needed to be added as an amendment. Democrats were against it; Republicans were for the change–the vote was 33-14, but 38 total votes were needed.
Butch Miller, Republican senate president pro tempore, states that the measure was needed for clarity reasons:
“All we’re trying to do is take what’s in Georgia code and put it in the Georgia constitution,” Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller said. Miller is a Gainesville Republican who sponsored the measure.
Georgia Democrats want only citizens to vote but claim this is political theater to drum up Republican voters in an election year. “The intention of this legislation may be to try to incite a particular base in this state to gin up support for their own elections,” said Sen Emanuel Jones, a Decatur Democrat.
The main person behind this push is Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger–the same man former President Trump called after the election to “find votes.” Raffensperger claimed there would be broad bipartisan support for the measure and said the following in a statement from Newsweek:
“Voting is a sacred responsibility for American citizens, and everyone should agree that only American citizens should vote,” said Raffensperger.
He later signed and asked for Georgia citizens to sign a petition to get the amendment passed by the General Assembly.
“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,” Raffensperger said in a statement.
Senate President Miller claims Democrats may have intentions to change the law in the future–so this change would make it harder for them to do so. This is already a law, so this shouldn’t be an issue. It feels like this is another tool for Republicans to point at Democrats to say, “they want non-citizens to vote, so vote for us for that to not happen.”