(NewsReady.com) – The US Constitution prohibits non-citizens from voting in federal elections. However, the founding document doesn’t say anything about the local ones. That has led to some places passing measures allowing immigrants to cast ballots. A court recently issued a decision on one of those measures.
In 2021, Democrats in the Vermont legislature approved measures allowing noncitizens in Montpelier, the state capital, and Winooski to vote in municipal elections. Governor Phil Scott (R) vetoed the measures, but the legislature overrode him. On Friday, January 20, the Vermont Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s verdict that dismissed a challenge to the measure allowing immigrants to vote.
The state’s high court determined the statute allowing noncitizens to cast ballots did not violate the constitution because the provision in the state constitution requiring citizenship for voters doesn’t apply to local elections.
NEW: Vermont Supreme Court upholds law allowing noncitizens who are legal U.S. residents to vote in local elections in Montpelier. In 2021, the Republican National Committee and Vermont Republican Party filed a lawsuit challenging the voter-approved law. https://t.co/0AC3wRrMW7
— Democracy Docket (@DemocracyDocket) January 23, 2023
Jack McCullough, the Montpelier City Council president, issued a statement reported by the Associated Press that said the city was “gratified” their decision to “welcome participation by all members of” the city was upheld by the court. He went on to say that he was going to continue working on getting noncitizens registered to vote so they can “fully participate in our democratic institutions.”
Vermont isn’t the only state that has passed measures allowing immigrants to vote in local elections in recent years. Several towns in Maryland have also allowed it. New York is another one that allows noncitizens to vote.
In 2022, Justice Ralph J. Porzio, a New York State Supreme Court judge from Staten Island, determined a measure allowing noncitizens to vote on the island was unconstitutional. He explained that the law passed by the City Council violated the constitution, which required voters to be citizens only. In order to change the law, he said they would have to pass a referendum.
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