Non-citizens are not permitted to cast ballots in federal elections under the US Constitution. The foundation documents, however, make no mention of the regional ones. As a result, several places have passed laws allowing immigrants to vote. One of those measures was recently the subject of a court’s ruling.
Democrats in the Vermont legislature passed legislation in 2021 permitting non-citizens to cast ballots in municipal elections in Winooski and the state capital Montpelier. The legislation overrode the veto of the Republican governor Phil Scott on these laws.
The Vermont Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss a challenge to the law allowing immigrants to vote.
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
Because local elections are exempt from the state constitution’s requirement that voters be citizens, the state’s high court found that the act permitting noncitizens to cast ballots did not violate the constitution.
The Associated Press received a statement from Jack McCullough, president of the Montpelier City Council, in which he expressed gratitude to the court for upholding the city’s decision to encourage participation from all citizens. He continued by saying that he would keep fighting to register noncitizens to vote so they may take full advantage of our democratic institutions.
Aside from Vermont, other states have recently implemented laws enabling immigrants to cast ballots in local elections. It is permitted in a number of Maryland towns as well. Another state that permits non-citizens to vote is New York.
Staten Island-born Justice Ralph J. Porzio, a justice on the New York State Supreme Court, ruled in 2022 that a law permitting noncitizens to cast ballots on the island was unconstitutional.
He argued that the City Council’s legislation was unconstitutional since it excluded non-citizens from voting. He stated that a referendum would need to be passed in order to modify the law.