Oklahoma Senate Moves to Ensure Only US Citizens Are Voting in State Elections

Katabella Roberts
By Katabella Roberts
February 27, 2023Politics
Oklahoma Senate Moves to Ensure Only US Citizens Are Voting in State Elections
A voting sign sits outside the Union Station polling center in Denver on June 30, 2020. (Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

The Oklahoma Senate on Feb. 22 approved legislation aimed at helping county election boards remove illegal aliens from voter registration rolls in a move that lawmakers say will prevent unlawful voting from taking place.

The bill, known as SB 377, was authored by state Sen. Brent Howard (R-Dis. 38) at the request of Oklahoma’s Secretary of the State Election Board.

Specifically, under the legislation, the voter registration of anyone who has been excused from jury duty for not being a U.S. citizen would be canceled.

According to the bill (pdf), the county court clerks would each month prepare a list of all individuals “excused from jury duty for not being a citizen of the United States and provide the list to the secretary of the county election board.”

Once the list has been acquired, the local election board secretary would then be required to “cancel the registration of each registered voter included on the list” and “report the person or persons to the district attorney and the United States attorney for the county.”

The bill, which would go into effect on Nov. 1, 2023, passed the Senate in a 45–1 vote; with seven of the Senate’s eight Democrats joining Republicans in supporting the bill.

It now heads to the Oklahoma House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a supermajority.

‘Logical Step to Ensure Voter Roll Integrity’

“Voting is our greatest freedom as U.S. citizens, and we must ensure that our elections are not disrupted by illegal voting,” Howard said in a statement on Wednesday after the vote.

“This is an easy way to help county election boards identify noncitizens who may be registered to vote and remove them from the rolls. County court clerks are already required to submit monthly notifications of felony convictions to the county election board secretaries, so this will be a similar process.”

Separately, Howard told The Federalist that the bill is a “common-sense approach to ensuring voter roll integrity” and preventing unlawful voting.

The GOP lawmakers said the legislation was conceived by the secretary of the state election board due to concerns among county officials that individuals might claim, either truthfully or falsely, that they cannot serve on a jury because they are not U.S. citizens.

“We have other requirements for our court clerks to report to the election secretaries if a person makes a claim that would otherwise disqualify them from being a registered voter (like a convicted felon or moved from the jurisdiction), so we all felt this was a logical step to ensure voter roll integrity,” Howard said. “We feel the significance [of this bill] is that if someone will self-profess they are unable to serve their civic duty of serving on a jury because they are not a citizen, then we need to ensure they are not also on the voter rolls.”

While non-U.S. citizens are prohibited from voting in federal elections including those for president, vice president, Senate, or House of Representatives, ambiguous language in constitutions has allowed states or municipalities from granting noncitizens the right to vote in local races or school board elections.

As a result, some states are moving to change the wording of their constitution as it pertains to voting rights.

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People vote at a polling site at a public school in New York City on Nov. 8, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

States Ban Voting for Non-US Citizens

In November, voters in Ohio approved an amendment to the state Constitution that would reword it from its original, stating that the Ohio Constitution guarantees voting rights for “every citizen” of the United States who meets certain criteria to “only citizens” of the United States who meet certain criteria.

In December, Louisiana voters approved a similar measure banning non-U.S. citizens from voting in elections. A string of other states, including Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, and North Dakota have approved similar measures.

Yet while Republican lawmakers seek to ensure that voting is a privilege granted only to U.S. citizens, dozens of Democrat-led states are advocating for noncitizens to be allowed to vote in local elections, pointing to protections under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Last year, New York City passed a law extending the right to vote in elections to noncitizens who are lawful permanent residents but that law was later struck down by a state Supreme Court Judge who ruled it was unconstitutional.

In October, the District of Columbia City Council approved the Local Resident Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2022, allowing some 50,000 noncitizen residents—including those in the country illegally—to vote in local elections as long as they have lived in the district for 30 days.

However, the House of Representatives in February voted to overturn the bill.

Still, states including Connecticut and San Francisco have introduced bills that would allow noncitizens to vote in municipal and state elections.

Earlier this month, Democrats in Rhode Island introduced legislation that would grant cities and towns authorization to allow all residents to vote in their municipal elections, regardless of their immigration status.

From The Epoch Times

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