IMMIGRANT VOTING RIGHTS
MOVEMENTS AND PRACTICES UPDATE
Seven jurisdictions currently allow noncitizens to vote in local elections:
- Chicago in school elections (since 1988)
- Six towns in Maryland : Takoma Park, Barnesville, Martin’s Additions, Somerset, Garrett Park, and Chevy Chase Section 3. Most of these towns, all in Montgomery County, have allowed noncitizen voting for at least two decades, some for longer.
- NYC allowed noncitizens to vote in the Community School Board elections (1969-2002).All of the above jurisdictions provide voting rights to both the documented and undocumented to this day (except for NYC).
Almost another dozen campaigns have been launched since these victories. Some campaigns would provide voting rights only to the documented, while other campaigns would extend voting rights to all noncitizens regardless of status. Some measures have been passed by a majority of the voters in a jurisdiction (ballot proposal) while other measures have been passed by elected representatives as local laws.
California: After a near win of Proposition F in 2004 (which lost by 51% to 49%), San Francisco advocates re-grouped and got close again. In 2010, voters in San Francisco narrowly defeated a ballot proposal (Proposition D) by a margin of 54.91% to 45.09 % that would have granted all parents and guardians of children in the public school system voting rights in school board elections, regardless of their immigrant status.
Several other jurisdictions have also considered campaigns but have yet to launch them.
New York City: Advocates formed the Coalition to Expand Voting Rights in 2004 and have successfully pressed for the introduction of legislation in 2005, 2009, and 2010. The legislation gained support of a majority of City Council members in 2013 but was not voted on. The legislation is expected to be reintroduced in late 2016 or early 2017. The legislation, if passed, would allow all residents legally residing in the U.S. to vote in municipal elections. Additional information at the Coalition to Expand Voting Rights website, and the New York City Council website.
Maryland: In 2015-6, Hyattsville Maryland moved to consider immigrant voting rights.
Washington D.C.: In 2015, legislation was re-introduced into the D.C. City Council by David Grasso, which would grant voting rights to legal permanent residents (LPRs) in local elections. This legislation is similar to legislation first introduced in 2004. Public Hearing and Press.
Massachusetts: Beginning in the 1990s, Amherst, Cambridge, Newton, and Brookline Massachusetts (2010) have passed home rule petitions that would allow resident immigrants who are not citizens to vote in their local elections, but these towns need state enabling legislation to implement their local laws. In 2014, Amherst again passed its home rule petition for immigrant voting rights. Boston considered a similar bill in 2008 but it lost in the Council by a vote of 8-7. In August, 2015, Cambridge introduced and passed legislation to allow LPRs. Bill and Press. Somerville also considered similar legislation.
Burlington Vermont: In 2014, the City Council of Burlington approved a measure that put a ballot measure for voters to consider, which would give Legal Permanent Residents (“green card holders”) the right to vote in local elections. The measure will need state enabling legislation to implement the law. The measure was defeated in March 2015 by 56% to 44%. For more information, see http://ivotevermont.org
Maine: In 2010, Voters in Portland Maine considered a ballot proposal that narrowly lost by a margin of 53% to 47% which would have granted voting rights in all municipal elections to legal permanent residents.
Puerto Rico: The Governor of Puerto Rico has proposed allowing immigrants—all immigrants—to vote in elections. http://latinousa.org/2015/01/30/puerto-rico-all-can-vote/
Other cities and states that have previously considered restoring immigrant voting rights, including New Haven Connecticut, Madison, Wisconsin, Carboro, North Carolina, Minnesota, Texas, and Denver Colorado.
Globally, at least 45 countries allow immigrant voting, at the local, regional and even national levels.