MADISON — A legislative committee on Thursday passed a resolution aimed at amending the state constitution to clarify that only U.S. citizens may vote in Wisconsin elections.
The Assembly Constitution and Ethics committee’s action moves Assembly Joint Resolution 54 one step closer to voters deciding the matter. AR 54 now heads to the Assembly floor for a vote. Proposed amendments to the Wisconsin constitution must pass in two consecutive sessions of the Legislature before the question can be placed on a state-wide ballot.
“Voting is an iconic embodiment of American civic life. It is more than just providing input to elected officials – it also comes with great civic responsibility,” said Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna), who authored the Assembly resolution. Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton) authored the Senate version.
Several liberal cities have passed or are considering measures to give non-citizens the right to vote in municipal elections. New York City this week opened up voting to more than 800,000 non-citizens through a controversial law. The metropolis becomes the first major U.S. city to give widespread voting rights to non-citizens, although the move is expected to face an immediate challenge in court.
“As of December 2021, at least 15 municipalities in the U.S. allowed noncitizens to vote in some or all local elections. One was in California, 11 were in Maryland, one was in New York, and two were in Vermont,” according to Ballotpedia.
Federal law requires U.S. citizenship to vote in national elections.
Wisconsin is one of about a dozen states that does not definitely prohibit non-citizens from voting.
The state constitution provides that all United States citizens are qualified electors, or individuals able to participate in elections. But it does not specify that only U.S. citizens can be eligible to vote.
The resolution would clarify the ambiguity so that only citizens are able to be qualified electors and vote in elections.
“Amending the state constitution is a long, but necessary process,” Steineke said. “Being an American citizen should mean something and this important amendment underscores the fact that only citizens should be casting ballots in our elections.”