ORLANDO, Fla. — Article Six, Section Two of the Florida Constitution states "Every U-S citizen, who is a permanent resident of the state, registered to vote and 18 years old," can vote in the Sunshine State. But in November, the wording can change from every citizen to only citizens can vote.
What You Need To Know
- Amendment 1 changes Florida Constitution from allowing "every citizen" the right to vote to "only citizens"
- The group Florida Citizen Voters says it's a loophole
- Some municipalities are allowing non-voters to vote in local elections
- COMPLETE COVERAGE: Making Sense of the Florida Constitutional Amendments | Florida Voting Guide
The organization is led by John Loudon, the organization’s chairman, who said the current wording of Florida’s constitution provides a loophole for non-citizens to vote.
“The [Florida] Constitution says all citizens are electors but it doesn’t say non-citizens are not electors that’s the loophole,” Loudon said. “It’s the same verbiage as the Maryland, California Constitution, and even the U.S. Constitution.”
He said Amendment 1 would close that so-called loophole. As of now, only Arizona and North Dakota changed the wording to say "Only Citizens" can vote.
“It’s spreading across the country like crazy giving legal voting rights to non-legal residents,” Loudon said.
San Francisco and Chicago allow non-citizens to vote only in school board elections.
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with inviting parents to participate in their children’s education,” said Father Jose Rodriguez, pastor at Iglesia Jesus de Nazaret Episcopal Church in Orlando, who also works with Hispanic community groups.
There are 11 cities in Maryland that allow non-citizen voters including, College Park, Maryland, where all residents of the city can vote in local elections regardless of status.
“Speaking hypothetically, if a local municipality allows non-citizens to vote in very hyper-local elections, I believe that’s up to that local jurisdiction and residents of that jurisdiction,” Rodriguez said.
Voting advocate Ricardo Negron said he believes nothing will change whether Amendment 1 passes.
“Only citizen, every citizen, you still have to be a citizen to vote,” Negron said.
“This is simply a smoke screen for individuals for trying to create conflict where there isn’t conflict, and put suspicion on people who are trying to contribute to our society,” Rodriguez said.
Loudon and Gabbie Liebert, a naturalized citizen born in Ecuador and a Citizen Voters board member, said they disagree.
“It’s absurd, I turned 16 in another country and I love immigration,” Loudon said. “I adopted a special needs kid that you can call an anchor baby.”
“When you become a citizen is when you really make that commitment to that country,” Liebert said.
A 60 percent supermajority vote is required for Amendment 1 to pass.
Similar amendments to change constitutional language to require voters to be U.S. citizens are on the ballot in Alabama and Colorado as well.