Georgia secretary of state urges voter citizenship amendment

Georgia

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s top elections official wants to amend the state Constitution to say only U.S. citizens can vote in the state’s elections, a protection that already exists in state law.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who’s facing a primary challenge next year, said during a news conference Wednesday that he’s calling on the state General Assembly to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot next year for voters to consider.

“Fortunately, Georgia code already makes clear that only U.S. citizens are allowed to vote in Georgia, but we are seeing disturbing trends across the country that makes this issue too important to be left up to future legislatures,” Raffensperger said.

To drive home his point, Raffensperger said lawmakers in Vermont recently overrode a veto by that state’s governor to allow noncitizens to vote. The Vermont Senate voted in June to override the governor’s veto of bills that would allow noncitizens to vote on local issues in the cities of Montpelier and Winooski.

Raffensperger also mentioned other jurisdictions that allow noncitizens to vote in local elections and several states where similar legislation has been proposed. He rejected arguments by proponents of such legislation who say noncitizens would only be allowed to vote in local elections.

“Allowing noncitizens to vote in some elections but not others will increase voter confusion and put additional burdens on election officials,” he said.

There is already a pending Republican-backed resolution in the Georgia House that proposes a state constitutional amendment to say only people who are citizens of the U.S. and residents of Georgia can vote in the state. It didn’t advance during this year’s legislative session but could be considered in next year’s session.

“The Secretary is urging the General Assembly to pass this constitutional amendment once and for all,” Raffensperger spokesperson Walter Jones said.

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