Iowa voters to decide on a constitutional amendment that would prohibit non-citizens from participating in local elections

The proposal would also allow 17-year-olds to participate in the primaries on the condition that they are 18 years old at the time of the general election.

Iowa voters are set to decide on a constitutional amendment which would prohibit non-citizens of this state from participating in state and local elections; and at the same time, it would allow 17-year-olds to exercise their right to vote in the primaries if they are will be 18 years old at the time of the general election.

The constitutional amendment was passed unanimously in both state houses during the 2021-2022 legislative session, was ratified in 2023-2024 and was certified for a vote this April 5, 2023, meaning Iowa voters will be able to decide in November 2024 whether or not to approve the constitutional amendment.

The law states that only U.S. citizens may vote in federal elections, and 43 states clearly state that "all citizens" may vote. However, it says nothing about those who are not citizens. In 1996, Congress passed a law prohibiting non-citizens from voting in federal elections, but that law does not specify anything about state or local elections, as is the case in Iowa.

In fact, seven states (Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, North Dakota and Ohio) allow non-citizens to vote and at least 15 municipalities across the country decided to allow non-citizens to participate in local elections starting in February 2023.

Also, starting this year, 17 states and Washington DC will allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the next general election, to vote in the primaries.

In the case of Iowa, as of April 2023 the Secretary of State's website notes that to register and vote you must be a U.S. citizen, reside in Iowa and be at least 17 years old (18 by Election Day). It is worth noting that in this state between 1985 and 2022, 17 electoral amendments have been voted on and only seven were rejected.