Tim Ryan Won't Say Whether He Thinks Illegal Immigrants Should Be Able To Vote in Ohio

Ohio Dem also undecided on stricter oversight for judges who release suspected violent criminals

Rep. Tim Ryan (D., Ohio) / Getty Images
October 25, 2022

Rep. Tim Ryan (D., Ohio) says he's still undecided on two major Ohio ballot initiatives, including one on whether illegal immigrants should vote in Ohio elections.

Less than two weeks out from Election Day, Ryan says he doesn't know where he stands on Ohio's two ballot initiatives. The first initiative asks whether judges should be required to consider public safety risks when setting bail for suspected criminals. The second would amend the Ohio state constitution to bar illegal immigrants from voting in state and local elections. Ryan said on Tuesday that he hasn't "read them" and intends to "dig into them before I make a decision."

His failure to take a side sets him apart from every major political candidate in the state. His Republican opponent J.D. Vance said he'll vote "yes" on both ballot initiatives, calling them "common sense." The initiatives have also been endorsed by Republican governor Mike DeWine and his Democratic challenger Nan Whaley. Every state Democratic senator voted in favor of placing the two issues on the ballot.

Ryan is attempting to paint himself as a moderate in a state that overwhelmingly voted for former president Donald Trump twice. But Ryan's shifting policy positions and left-wing voting record is a major source of attacks by Vance, who is endorsed by virtually every Republican in the state including the retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R.).

Conservative activists in the state say the ballot initiatives are an attempt to protect Ohio from the problems facing dark-blue cities such as New York and San Francisco. Local governments in the liberal cities voted to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections, although a New York state judge blocked the city's law from taking effect in June. Both those cities are also facing a spike in crime. Critics allege left-wing judges releasing suspected criminals without bail is a contributing factor.