Voting Booths

Bucking anti-immigrant trend, some communities push for non-citizen voting

By
Friday, October 22, 2010 at 6:00 am

Legal immigrants will be allowed to vote in city elections in Portland, Maine, if a ballot initiative passes on Nov. 2.

Last Wednesday, a group of progressive volunteers gathered in Monument Square in Portland, Maine, to quiz passersby about citizenship. Could they answer sample civics questions from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services test to become an American citizen? (Most couldn’t.) Did they know how much it costs to become a citizen or how long it can take? (Most estimates were too low.) Did they know about Question 4 on the Portland, Maine, city ballot Nov. 2?

[Immigration1] In a city where legal immigrants make up about 15 percent of the population, the progressive groups Maine People’s Alliance and the League of Young Voters are working to encourage voters to extend voting rights to legal immigrants who have not yet become citizens. They argue these residents live, work and pay taxes in the city, but due to the difficulty of obtaining citizenship are unfairly denied the right to determine how the city spends its funds.

“Legal immigrants are active members of the community and shouldn’t be denied a voice because of these major barriers,” said Reva Eiferman, an organizer with Maine People’s Alliance. “There’s a disconnect between the citizenship process within the immigration system and an individual’s right to have their voice heard in their city.”

As cities and states across the country consider legislation aimed at limiting the flow of outsiders to their areas, a few municipalities are moving in the opposite direction, pushing to expand the rights of immigrants living within their borders. In Portland, Question 4 would allow legal immigrants to vote in municipal elections. A ballot proposition in San Francisco aims to take voting one step further, allowing even illegal immigrants to vote in school elections as long as they are the parents of a public school student. In New York, city council members plan to introduce legislation allowing legal residents to vote in city elections within the next few months.

These efforts show that while anti-immigrant sentiment is prevalent, it’s not universal, supporters argue.

“It responds to what’s happening nationwide — the new policies in Arizona included — in a positive way,” Eiferman said.

Non-citizens can already vote in six Maryland municipalities and in Chicago school elections, but the rest of the country gives voting privileges only to citizens. Early in the country’s history, non-citizens were allowed to vote in most states, but as immigration into the United States increased, residents began to restrict voting rights, state by state. (Federal elections have always limited voting to citizens.) By the 1920s, as Europeans moved to the country after World War I, states cut off legal immigrant voting rights entirely, and only a few cities have so far reinstated them.

“It was kind of like the atmosphere now: There was concern about the volume of newcomers and what it means for the nature of America and where it’s headed,” said Ron Hayduk, a political science professor at the City University in New York and a supporter of expanding New York voting rights to non-citizens.

If immigrants can vote, they will never bother to become citizens, said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the anti-illegal immigration group Center for Immigration Studies. He said the citizenship process is sufficiently easy for legal immigrants that they should be required to fully commit to the country before getting the right to vote.

“It’s silly not to require that formal step of marrying America instead of just shacking up,” Krikorian said.

But supporters argue that voting would help legal immigrants become more invested in their cities and schools. The San Francisco ballot measure to give parents of public school students the right to vote, Proposition D, could dramatically increase the number of potential voters in school elections: About half of all children in the Bay area have at least one immigrant parent, according to a study by the California Immigration Policy Center.

“I really believe our schools will be better if more parents are involved in every level of school governance,” said Kathy Coll, the mother of two San Francisco Unified School District students and one of three co-chairmen of the campaign for Proposition D.

In New York, the effort to expand voting will go through the city council, not through voters directly. City council member Daniel Dromm, a Democrat, said the council plans to consider legislation to extend voting in city elections to legal immigrants with the next few months. The bill will be called the Resident Voting Rights Act — “They are residents, they’re just not citizens yet,” Dromm said — and would allow any legal resident to vote in municipal elections.

“I feel it’s a basic right: This country was founded on the premise of ‘no taxation without representation,’” Dromm said. “By denying residents the right to vote, we are forcing taxation without representation.”

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Comments

37 Comments

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Pingback posted October 22, 2010 @ 6:18 am

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yehlingling
Comment posted October 22, 2010 @ 6:35 pm

As an immigration who used to prepare immigration applications, I am inviting Americans to learn from China. Decades ago, leaders in China already understood that population growth/immigration would seriously impact its economic success and has curbed both. China understood a century ago the need to adopt one common written and spoken language to unify the Chnese. China does not hand out welfare or allow people of Chinese descent born abroad to live, let alone vote in China.

This August 25, the Associated Press reported that a senior Japanese lawmaker, Ichiro Ozawa, publicly remarked that Americans are “simple-minded.” Was Mr. Ozawa right?

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Pingback posted October 23, 2010 @ 7:47 am

[...] and contributing, but where do we draw the line?  On Nov. 2, voters in two American cities will vote whether to allow non-citizens to vote in certain elections. In Portland, Maine, a ballot proposal [...]


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Pingback posted October 23, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

[...] and contributing, but where do we draw the line? On Nov. 2, voters in two American cities will vote whether to allow non-citizens to vote in certain elections. In Portland, Maine, a ballot proposal [...]


Altermunidialism
Comment posted October 23, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

I'm not too sure the US should look to China for policy guidance, especially when 'unifying' the Chinese has involved violent suppression of minorities, particularly the Tibetans and Uyghurs. Though judging from the bigoted views expressed on your website, I doubt you care about this.


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Pingback posted October 23, 2010 @ 6:15 pm

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mommaR
Comment posted October 24, 2010 @ 6:46 pm

so if they are giving voting rights to non citizen why not to felons & dishonorable discharged military they are also tax payers who don't have the right to vote. oh what the heck lets let everybody vote! Sorry I think you need to be a legal American citizen to vote, if they don't want to become citizens(after being here over a decade) send them back where they came from.


Italian310
Comment posted October 24, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

You guys are a bunch of liberal idiots!!!!!!! The only “unfair” treatment these illegal immigrants are getting, is not being deported!!!!!! Its your type of people that would love to open up america's gates to any and all without taking the proper legal steps. Leaving the rest of us to pay for all their needs.. Yeah thats really intelligent guys… Wake the hell up!!!!!! Of course with the elections coming up, the NEWLY elected will take care of your types…. Good Bye Liberal leaning america….. :) :) :)


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Libertygurl
Comment posted October 25, 2010 @ 9:56 pm

What are you guys smoking?!

“By denying residents the right to vote, we are forcing taxation without representation.” THEY ARE RESIDENTS WHO ARE HERE ILLEGALLY! THEY NEED TO BECOME CITIZENS! I really don't get it…what's so hard to understand about that?

I'm not a legal citizen of Mexico or Canada or (fill in the blank country), can I vote there? The basis of your argument is that “the line's too long” and “it's too hard” to get citizenship here, so let's just cut in line? Unbelievable…the only reason this is a growing trend in some uber-liberal cities is because Democrats see this as a way to build their power base.


Hottoddy14
Comment posted October 26, 2010 @ 4:16 am

Voting is a privilege. A privilege needs to be earned. You earn that privilege by becoming a US citizen. Check out the website for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, they even say they shouldn't vote. If limited language skills are keeping you from becoming a citizen then how do you understand enough to cast an informed vote? For more info check out MyGov365. Here's a link to more discussions on this idiotic idea…http://www.mygov365.com/discussions/discussion/413/page/0/#post-2095


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Pingback posted October 26, 2010 @ 2:01 pm

[...] The OneAmerica Votes early voting event, its use of illegal aliens, and widespread reports of voter fraud raise the question of whether illegal aliens may be part of a voter fraud effort by the Democratic Party. Illegals have been known to vote in the past. On Election Day, two cities – San Francisco and Portland, Maine – will vote on proposals that would formally allow illegal immigrants to vote. [...]


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Bucking Anti-Immigrant Trend, Some Communities Push for Non-Citizen Voting
Pingback posted October 27, 2010 @ 11:13 pm

[...] Last Wednesday, a group of progressive volunteers gathered in Monument Square in Portland, Maine, to quiz passersby about citizenship. Could they answer sample civics questions from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services test to become an American citizen? (Most couldn’t.) Did they know how much it costs to become a citizen or how long it can take? (Most estimates were too low.) Did they know about Question 4 on the Portland, Maine, city ballot Nov. 2? Full Article [...]


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Pingback posted October 28, 2010 @ 11:09 am

[...] forthcoming about their intentions; in Portland, ME and New York City, there is a push to allow non-citizens to vote. Not to be outdone, San Francisco seeks to allow even illegal aliens to cast ballots in school [...]


The Democrats' Final Recourse: Massive Vote Fraud - Old Hippie's Forums
Pingback posted October 28, 2010 @ 12:22 pm

[...] forthcoming about their intentions; in Portland, ME and New York City, there is a push to allow non-citizens to vote. Not to be outdone, San Francisco seeks to allow even illegal aliens to cast ballots in school [...]


gorak
Comment posted October 28, 2010 @ 2:53 pm

The point is to let illegal immigrants vote. Your spin is as obtuse as it is shameless.


The Democrats’ Final Recourse: Massive Vote Fraud | Philip Brennan
Pingback posted October 28, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

[...] forthcoming about their intentions; in Portland, ME and New York City, there is a push to allow non-citizens to vote. Not to be outdone, San Francisco seeks to allow even illegal aliens to cast ballots in school [...]


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Bucking Anti-Immigrant Trend, Some Communities Push for Non-Citizen Voting | Latino News
Pingback posted October 29, 2010 @ 11:42 am

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The Democrats’ Final Recourse: Massive Vote Fraud « The RatDog Pack
Pingback posted October 29, 2010 @ 11:46 am

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Comment posted November 1, 2010 @ 4:23 pm

people should be able to come in if they want its the land of the free not the land of the reppressed ppl who dont want to let enyone in


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Pingback posted November 13, 2010 @ 6:38 am

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Larry Kearney
Comment posted December 30, 2010 @ 10:28 pm

What about a little thing called the Constitution?


constitutiongeek
Comment posted March 4, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

Lybertygurl I believe you have misunderstood the point of this article and what these set of laws intend to do. First of all, I’d like to address the part in your response to the article where you mention that “THEY ARE RESIDENTS WHO ARE HERE ILLEGALLY!” I believe you are incorrect because they segment of the population they intend to extend the vote to are legal non-citizen residents. What does this mean? You may ask. Well it means that they have all the required documentation and have come to the United States legally but they have not yet become US Citizens yet. That doesn’t make them illegal if I may add.

Now to your point about whether you could vote in Mexico or Canada… that’s another misunderstanding right there. The reason why you can’t vote in those places is because you don’t reside in that country in the first place nor do you have proper documentation to be a legal resident of such nations. Now if you were living in either one of those nations and had proper documentation than that would be a completely different story.

That my friend is what is called “Taxation without representation.” One of the reasons we are now a nation and not a colony. Look it up I’m not joking.


constitutiongeek
Comment posted March 4, 2011 @ 8:31 pm

There is also something called a Constitutional Amendment Sir. “A constitutional amendment is a change to the constitution of a nation or a state.” The reason why we have amendments is to adjust a document written in 1787 to modern day America and current events. The constitution isn’t perfect and the Founding Fathers understood this. They couldn’t possibly foresee everything that would go in America centuries later. Just like we have 27 Amendments today there could be 28 in the future and that’s ok. That is exactly why our constitution is the oldest standing constitution in the world because we allow it to adapt to current events and circumstances.


constitutiongeek
Comment posted March 4, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

The difference in the case you express mommaR is that these individuals have committed crimes that exclude them from the democratic process and non-citizen legal residents haven’t not committed any crimes so the two are unequal and shouldn’t be compared.


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