The Village of Yellow Springs, Ohio, east of Dayton, says that home rule allows the village to make the decision to allow non-citizens to vote. But Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose disagrees, saying it’s forbidden by Ohio law.
In a directive sent to the Greene County Board of Elections Thursday, LaRose ordered the board to reject non-citizen voter registrations and put measures in place ensuring only citizens are allowed to vote this November.
In the 2020 primary election, Yellow Springs — a village of about 3,500 about 21 miles east of Dayton — approved a charter amendment that explicitly allowed non-citizens to register and vote in local elections.
But LaRose cites the Ohio Constitution, Article XVIII, Section 3, which states municipalities may only exercise home rule powers “as are not in conflict with the general laws.”
He noted the Ohio Constitution 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 Secretary of State said Yellow Springs’ charter amendment also violates the United States 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 30 days, has the qualifications of an elector, and is entitled to vote at all elections … “
“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.
“(The right to vote) 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 sew chaos in our elections,” LaRose said in a statement Thursday.
The letter from LaRose directs the Greene County Board of Elections to prohibit non-citizens from registering to vote; cancel by Aug. 3 the voter registrations of any non-citizen residents of the village who may have already registered; prohibit any non-citizen residents in the village from voting on Yellow Springs ballot issues or for Yellow Springs candidates in any election administered by the county board of elections; and not include the votes of any non-citizen residents in Yellow Springs in the tabulations, canvasses or certifications, even if the election is held solely in the village and the issues or candidates are limited solely to village issues or elected offices.