Voting is for citizens

Community activists rally during an event on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, DAPA in downtown Los Angeles, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

The U.S. Constitution and its amendments limit voting rights to citizens of the United States. But Republican secretaries of state from Ohio and Kansas warned at a congressional hearing last week that President Barack Obama’s amnesty plan would pose a serious challenge to that rule.

In rash response, House non-voting Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-Washington, D.C., made this appalling accusation: “The Republicans may want to go down in history as the party who tried once again 100 years later to nullify the right to vote. Well, I am here to say they shall not succeed.”

Again, though, the “right to vote” is a right of U.S. citizens. And you need not oppose comprehensive immigration reform, including a reasonable path to citizenship for undocumented U.S. residents, to rightly oppose letting them vote before becoming citizens.

Federal guidelines give voter eligibility to applicants who show a driver’s license or official photo ID, or provide the last four digits of their Social Security numbers. And under President Obama’s executive amnesty plans, millions of illegal immigrants would be able to obtain driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers.

So what is to keep them from registering to vote?

Most registry agents have no simple way of assessing the eligibility of applicants. And election officials in most states, including South Carolina have no mandate to verify citizenship.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s Justice Department has challenged states, including South Carolina, that even require a photo ID to vote.

Congress should pass legislation to counter rule changes unauthorized residents into legal voters.

Yes, our nation needs a thorough overhaul of a broken immigration system.

Yet no legislation, and certainly no presidential edict, should override the Constitution by giving non-citizens the right to vote.