NEWS & ANALYSIS

7 States are Pushing Non-Citizen Voting


Several states in the U.S. are pushing for non-citizen voting, something that has been a long-standing debate with the recent increase in immigration – both legal and illegal. 

So far, efforts to expand non-citizen voting don’t apply to national elections for president or Congress, nor to state offices like governor or state legislator. However, democrats have brought this to the table. 

Indeed, as reported by the Daily Signal, Congress passed legislation in 1996 prohibiting noncitizens from voting in federal elections. State constitutions vary, although so far the idea has been a local matter. 

Local laws also vary. Some apply only to legal residents, like green card holders, while others apply to illegal immigrants as well. 

States where local jurisdictions allow non-citizens to vote or are considering doing so include Maryland, California, Illinois, Vermont, District of Columbia, New York and Massachusetts. 

In Takoma Park, Maryland, non-citizens have been allowed to vote since March of 1991. Since that time, nine other local jurisdictions have followed suit: Barnesville, Chevy Chase, Garrett Park, Glen Echo, Martin’s Additions and Somerset. 

In California, the Los Angeles Unified School District authorized a study in 2019 to determine whether voting eligibility should extend to non-citizens. The change would require voters to approve a ballot question. If it goes that way, Los Angeles would follow in San Francisco’s footsteps, as the city allows non-citizens to vote in school board elections. 

In Illinois, state Sen. Celina Villanueva proposed last June to allow non-citizens to vote in local school board elections statewide. Illinois was the first state to provide Medicaid coverage to residents, regardless of immigration status, and Chicago was the first major city to allow non-citizen voting in 1989. 

In Vermont, voters in two cities approved measures to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections for offices like mayor, city council and school board. The RNC, Vermont Republican Party and a group of voters sued the two cities in response. 

In D.C., council member Brianne Nadeau reintroduced a bill to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections, making legal permanent residents eligible to vote for mayor, attorney general, council, school board and advisory neighborhood commissions. 

The New York City Council is reviewing a proposal to enfranchise non-citizens for local elections. The change, if enacted, would allow more than 600,000 non-citizens to vote in local elections. 

In Massachusetts, six cities have started the process of considering giving non-citizens the ability to vote. 

On the other hand, voters in four states have blocked non-citizens from voting: Colorado, Alabama, Florida and North Dakota.