Alabama’s Constitutional Amendments 2020: Amendment One, ‘only’ citizens can vote

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Ahead of the general election, we’re taking a look at the six constitutional amendments on Alabama ballots this year.

First up is Amendment One, which focuses on a citizen’s right to vote. Voters in Colorado and Florida are being asked a similar question.

So, what would this measure do?

Alabama’s constitution contains plenty of obsolete language, including on voting. Amendment One, sponsored by Alabama Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, would change the state’s language on who is entitled to vote from “every citizen” to “only citizens.” But the passage—now obsolete—actually says every male citizen.

It’s largely symbolic, the Alabama Legislature isn’t likely to grant non-citizens the right to vote anytime soon, but here’s what voters are being asked to decide:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to amend Article VIII of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 177 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to provide that only a citizen of the United States has the right to vote.

Proposed by Act 2019-330.

“Yes ( ) No ( ).”

A “yes vote” on this proposal would change language allowing every U.S. citizen to vote to “only U.S. citizens.”

Political analyst Jess Brown explained some of the background behind drawing that distinction.

“Senator Marsh views Article 8, the suffrage article of the old 1901 Constitution, that it protects the right to vote for citizens, but it does not explicitly prohibit non-citizens from being authorized to be a voter by the legislature,” Brown said. “And he wants to take away that discretion from the legislature and make it clear in our state constitution that non-citizens may not be registered voters in Alabama.”

Senator Marsh’s office issued a statement on the amendment, “Ensuring that we have fair elections is more important now than ever. This Constitutional Amendment sends a message to Washington that we demand ballot security be taken seriously,” said Willl Califf, spokesman for Senator Marsh.

“It would strengthen the language and send a message that this is something the voters want Washington politicians to take seriously.”

Click here to view the list of amendments in full.

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