A bill is moving in the North Carolina General Assembly to amend the state constitution to make it unambiguously clear that only qualified American citizens can vote in North Carolina. Legislators should put that proposal up for a vote of the people this November.

House Bill 1074, Constitutional Amendment/Citizens-Only Voting, would put an amendment on the November ballot to change Article VI, Section 1 of the North Carolina Constitution regarding who “shall be entitled to vote at any election by the people of the State.” It would change it from “Every person born in the United States and every person who has been naturalized” to “Only a citizen of the United States.”

Is such a change necessary?

Yes, it is, for two reasons.

First, while the current language affirms the voting rights of most adult citizens, it does not explicitly state that only American citizens can vote. Legislators or judges can exploit that silence to allow noncitizens to vote, too, as has been done in other states and the nation’s capital. There is an additional requirement for American citizens to have resided in the state and their precinct for at least 30 days (a one-year residency requirement in the state constitution was struck down in federal court in 1971).

Second, while state law currently allows only citizens to register to vote, temporary legislative majorities could brush aside that protection to “reshape local politics forever.” Additionally, progressive judges can exploit the lack of clear constitutional language limiting voting rights to citizens to strike down citizen-only voting statutes or uphold state laws or city ordinances allowing noncitizens to vote.

We have seen just such a legislative and judicial tag team allow noncitizens to vote in Washington, DC. First, the city council approved the “Local Resident Voting Rights Act” in 2022, enabling resident aliens to vote in city elections. Congress has constitutional authority over the nation’s capital and could have prevented noncitizens from voting there. The House passed a resolution disapproving the city council’s act, but it has languished in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Finally, a federal court dismissed a challenge to DC’s noncitizen voting law last March. Democratic Party lawyer Marc Elias’ organization said that the ruling was a “victory for Washington, DC noncitizen residents who will still be able to have their voices heard in local elections.”

Unequivocal language in North Carolina’s constitution limiting voting to citizens would prevent a similar gathering of legislative and judicial forces from altering North Carolina’s politics forever by allowing noncitizens to vote. That is why the amendment in House Bill 1074 is needed.

There is little doubt that North Carolinians would approve the amendment if legislators gave them a chance to vote for it.

A May 8–10 survey by Remington Research Group found that 87% of likely North Carolina voters would support a citizen-only voting amendment to the state constitution. Support for the amendment was strong across regions, parties, ideologies, and races.

That support is also consistent with election results across the country. In recent years, voters in six states have voted on citizen-only voting. In all six states, including blue-leaning Colorado, voters overwhelmingly approved citizen-only voting amendments. There is little doubt that North Carolina voters would do the same.

North Carolinians are ready to approve a citizen-only voting amendment to the state constitution. Legislators should give them the opportunity to do so by passing House Bill 1074.