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Local News

Bill to ban noncitizens from voting in Georgia elections stalls at key legislative deadline


Stanley Dunlap, Georgia Recorder
March 1, 2024

A bill that proposed to let Georgians vote in November on a constitutional amendment banning noncitizens from casting ballots in local elections failed to advance in the state House by Thursday’s critical Crossover Day deadline.

House Resolution 780 backed by Republicans, which clarified that only U.S. citizens can vote in Georgia elections, received 98 votes in favor to 61 opposed, which was several votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to place a constitutional amendment referendum on the ballot. Democratic lawmakers called the measure a political stunt since Georgia’s law currently requires voters to be U.S. citizens and state residents to vote.

Over the last several years, conservative leaders in Georgia and other states have intensified their call for states to enact laws banning non-citizenship voting as more immigrants have crossed the southern border illegally.  

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is one of the leading proponents of the new proof of citizenship in Georgia to allow access to the ballot box. A citizenship review of Georgia’s voting rolls he conducted in 2022 found that 1,634 people attempting to vote were rejected after their citizenship could not be verified by a federal immigration system.

Rep. Jesse Petrea, a Savannah Republican, said he introduced the bill to clarify that only citizens can vote in elections in Georgia. Petrea said that although the U.S. constitution only allows citizens to vote in federal elections, the ambiguity in many state laws has led to cities including Oakland, San Francisco and Washington D.C. opening local elections to noncitizens.

“We all know how important the vote is and how sacred it is to all of us that only citizens vote,” Petrea said late Thursday night. “The right thing to do is to make sure we’re clear, and not ambiguous in our constitution that only citizens should vote.”

 Lawrenceville Democratic Rep. Sam Park said that HR 780 is unnecessary because the Georgia constitution clearly states that only U.S. citizens who are Georgia residents are eligible to vote.

“I encourage you to read the state constitution. It is very, very clear that this is unnecessary,” Park said.

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Georgia Recorder under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.