Perhaps the proudest day of my life was Nov. 18, 1977, the day I became an American citizen. My American dream began in Barranquilla, Colombia, and continues today as a proud citizen of Pueblo.
My journey is like so many other naturalized American citizens who weren’t blessed to be born here but rather chose this country and did the work to apply, wait, pass the U.S. Civics Citizenship Test and then register to vote.
Now, efforts are underway across the country to let noncitizens legally vote in this country. This is a slap in the face to every naturalized American citizen, who came here legally and sacrificed to earn our citizenship and our right to vote.
Sen. Kamala Harris’ California, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Vermont, former President Barack Obama’s Illinois, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Massachusetts, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New York and elsewhere are trying to allow noncitizens to legally vote. In fact, Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco spent $300,000 of taxpayer money last year to encourage noncitizens to register to vote!
Maryland has 11 cities allowing noncitizens to legally vote in local elections. Efforts in Boston, New York City and Portland are underway. There are even efforts in Johnson County, Iowa. Would anyone be surprised if Boulder was next?
The left is calling noncitizen voting “the newest civil right.” To me, this sounds crazy, but it’s really happening.
How is this possible?
Surprisingly, the U.S. Constitution and every state constitution — with the exception of Arizona and North Dakota — do not specifically require citizenship to vote. Each of these state constitutions — Colorado‘s included — say nearly the same thing: “Every citizen of the United States shall be an elector …”
This language tells us only who can, but not who can’t, legally vote. Looking at a dictionary definition of the word “citizen” is very illuminating. A “citizen” is merely defined as a resident of a city or town. It’s the loophole being used in the states currently allowing noncitizens to legally vote. They want to extend the right to vote to every resident whether they are a citizen or not! That’s why we need to vote “yes” on Amendment 76, the Colorado Citizen Voters Amendment.
“Yes” on 76 strikes the words “Every citizen” and inserts the words “Only a citizen” so the state constitution will say, “Only a citizen of the United States shall be an elector …”
That’s the entire amendment. Just three words.
North Dakota overwhelmingly passed its North Dakota Citizen Voters Amendment at last November’s election. Now, it’s Colorado’s turn.
I am honored to be a co-chair of the Yes on 76 campaign to ensure Colorado elections are only for a Colorado citizens.
For me, three days particularly stand out in my journey as an American: The day I arrived, the day I became a citizen and the day I first voted, which was for presidential candidate Ronald Reagan. That vote was earned.
Isn’t it time Colorado’s elections were constitutionally limited to Colorado’s citizens? It’s time for the Colorado Citizen Voters Amendment.
Vera Ortegon, a native of Colombia, is a microbiologist, business owner, health care professional and professor at universities in Pueblo and Colorado Springs.