Panel OKs citizen-only right to vote bill

By Allison Allsop / LSU Manship School News Service

State Rep. Debbie Villio proposed a constitutional amendment to limit voting in Louisiana to U.S. citizens. (Photo courtesy of Louisiana House)

BATON ROUGE — A Senate committee advanced a bill by conservative lawmakers on Tuesday aimed at limiting the right to vote in Louisiana to U.S. citizens.

House Bill 178, authored by state Rep. Debbie Villio, R-Kenner, proposes a constitutional amendment to make it clear that in Louisiana someone must be a citizen of the United States to register to vote.

Without the amendment, local governing authorities have the power to allow non-citizens the right to vote.

Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin supported the bill.

Villio said this is a political issue only “if you believe a non-U.S. citizen should vote.”

The House had passed the bill 72-17.

Several representatives at House hearings had questions whether the bill is necessary due to the current wording of the state constitution. The question became: “Can you be a citizen of the state without being a citizen of the U.S.?”

Former Rep. Woody Jenkins, who was a part of the state constitutional convention from 1972 to 1974, said the intention was for a citizen of Louisiana to be a citizen of the U.S. who lives in Louisiana and intends to stay in Louisiana indefinitely.

Villio and Ardoin talked about increasing the integrity and security of the elections.