Louisiana Voters Approve Measure Barring Voting for Non-US Citizens
Louisiana Voters Approve Measure Barring Voting for Non-US Citizens

By Katabella Roberts

Louisiana voters on Dec. 10 approved a number of state constitutional amendments, including one that bans non-U.S. citizens from voting in elections.

All three amendments, which also include requiring the state Senate to approve the governor’s appointments to the Civil Service Commission and Senate confirmation of State Police Commission members, received 73 percent of voters’ support.

USA Today called the election.

Specifically, the first amendment asked voters: “Do you support an amendment to provide that no person who is not a citizen of the United States shall be allowed to register and vote in this state?”

The approved amendment will now add the following language to the Louisiana Constitution to make it clearer who can and cannot vote: “No person who is not a citizen of the United States shall be allowed to register and vote in this state.”

That means that anyone who is not a U.S. citizen will not be able to register to vote or cast a ballot in Louisiana elections.

Louisiana had allowed Louisiana citizens to vote but did not explicitly require voters to be U.S. citizens, and Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin had raised concerns about the language used in the constitution.

‘That Doesn’t Sit Right With Me’

In a press conference in November, Ardoin said: “As Secretary of State, it is my job to ensure that our elections remain secure, accurate and transparent. That includes protecting and preserving the right to vote for American citizens. Currently, there is the potential to exploit language in our state constitution that could allow municipalities to extend the sacred right to vote to noncitizens.”

Official portrait of Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin. (Office of Louisiana Secretary of State)

“That doesn’t sit right with me,” Ardoin added, noting that he has worked alongside Republican Rep. Debbie Villio and Sen. Beth Mizell to “craft language that makes it clear that only American citizens can vote in Louisiana’s elections.”

Previously in 2020, only Arizona and North Dakota’s state constitutions had stated that noncitizens could not vote in state or local elections, however, Alabama, Colorado, and Florida approved similar measures later that year.

During November’s midterm elections, 77 percent of voters in Ohio approved a similar ban prohibiting noncitizens from voting.

Under federal law, noncitizens are banned from voting in federal elections, including those for president, vice president, Senate, or House of Representatives. However, the law does not prevent states or municipalities from granting noncitizens the right to vote in local races.

Currently, 11 towns in Maryland and two in Vermont allow noncitizens to vote.

New York Law Struck Down

Last year, New York City passed a law extending the right to vote in elections to noncitizens who are lawful permanent residents. The law states, in part, that “eligible municipal voters shall have the right to vote in municipal elections and shall be entitled to the same rights and privileges as U.S. citizen voters with regard to municipal elections.”

However, the law was later struck down by a state Supreme Court Judge who ruled it was unconstitutional.

In a statement after the vote over the weekend, Ardoin said he was “exceedingly pleased that the voters overwhelmingly supported Amendment 1.”

“This vote sends a clear message that the radical election policies of places like San Francisco, New York City, and Washington, D.C. have no place in Louisiana. The passage of Amendment 1 will ensure the continued integrity of Louisiana’s elections. I look forward to continuing that fight into the new year.”

The second amendment passed by Louisiana voters on Dec. 10 will allow senators to vet the qualifications of the six gubernatorial appointees to the Civil Service Commission, which regulates the state civil service system. The third will give them the same power with regard to State Police Commission members.

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