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Ohio Legislature Passes Bill to Ban Foreign Interference in State Elections

May 31, 2024
Riordan T. McClain News

COLUMBUS - The Ohio House recently passed House Bill 1, legislation that will ban foreign nationals from contributing to ballot initiatives, announced State Rep. Riordan McClain (R-Upper Sandusky).

Under current state and federal law, it is illegal for foreign nationals to donate to political candidates, but there is no precedent for contributions to ballot issues. This loophole has left the Buckeye State vulnerable to foreign national interference. By expanding the current law to ban foreign donations to Ohio’s ballot issues, the legislation will protect Ohio’s election integrity and ensure foreign influence will not sway future election results.  

“Ohio voters made it clear in 2022 by passing Issue 2 by nearly 77% that non-US citizens cannot vote in Ohio elections. It makes no sense that those same individuals should still be able to spend millions of dollars to influence other voters in those same elections,” said McClain. “I am pleased that my colleagues and I have passed this legislation to make it clear on this issue. Foreign nationals, whether friend or foe, have no place in our election process.”

To remedy this issue, House Bill 1 will do the following: 

Prohibit direct and indirect contributions from foreign nationals;
Ban the spending, including independent expenditures, of funds tied to foreign nationals; and 
Ensure independent investigatory and enforcement power by the Ohio Attorney General.

The Senate concurred with House Bill 1 on Friday. The legislation now heads to Governor DeWine, who has previously applauded its passage in the House.