Below is my prepared public comment before the North Carolina Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee Committee on June 20, 2024, in support of Senate Bill 630 “Constitutional Amendment/Citizens-Only Voting”.

“I am Jim Stirling with the John Locke Foundation.

I speak in favor of Senate Bill 630, the constitutional amendment for citizens-only voting in North Carolina.  To be more specific I’m here advocating for clearer language to solidify our current election practices on citizen only voting.

The North Carolina State Constitution currently states, “Every person born in the United States and every person who has been naturalized” can vote. To most people the intent of this language seems clear, and in the past I to believe this language was clear enough to illustrate that intent.  That only  citizens be allowed to vote.  

However, in this era of lawfare run rampant, I don’t think we ran rely on language that is not as direct as possible.  The issue with our current language is while we affirm the voting rights of adult citizens, the constitution is silent on non-citizens and voting.  This leaves it vulnerable to lawfare and judicial overreach we have seen in modern times.

Just a few years back a lawsuit challenging our states rules on felon voting was struck down and injected their own law on how felon voting rights would be restored. Even though our state constitution is clear that felons are not allowed to vote unless the General Assembly institutes a way for their rights to be restored.

The lower court’s decision to create their own policy provision and push against the language in our states constitution should illustrate the necessity of crystal-clear language in our constitution.

North Carolina law currently limits voter registration to citizens. However, temporary legislative or judicial majorities that seek to “reshape local politics forever” can brush aside those protections. A constitutional amendment stating unequivocally that “only a citizen of the United States” may vote would protect that understanding.

The problem with our current language is that while it affirms the voting rights of most adult citizens, it is silent on whether noncitizens can vote.  the language needs to be clarified to affirm that only qualified United States citizens may vote.

Thank you.”