PLATFORM/The right to vote
San Francisco officials are considering asking voters in November to give parents who are not U.S. citizens the right to vote in school board elections. Across America, the idea of non-citizens voting in local elections is catching on, with one of the biggest efforts in New York, where folks are rallying behind legislation that would open up local elections to at least 1 million immigrants there. The controversial idea is fueling charges from critics who say allowing non-citizens to vote devalues citizenship. Recently, American City & County asked its e-mail newsletter readers whether they thought non-citizens should be given the right to vote in local elections. A sampling of responses is below.
“YES! Non-citizens are as much a part of our society as everyone else and should have a voice in government affecting their lives.”
— John Vago, Philadelphia Water Department
“George Washington and Thomas Jefferson must be rolling in their graves. Call this what it is — an attempt to overthrow the Constitution of the United States. Citizenship is a privilege that is accompanied by certain responsibilities. If we allow non-citizens to vote, then why bother with citizenship?”
— C. Michael Morrison, City Council Member, Marina, Calif.
“Yes, anyone who pays taxes should be allowed to vote.”
— Gary T. Dovey, Planner, Venango County, Pa.
“There is more to voting than going into a booth and pulling a lever. There is the responsibility of being a citizen. It is not a one-way street.”
— Neal Halloran, Zoning Board of Appeals, Cochecton, N.Y.
“I oppose giving non-citizens the right to vote. Membership in any organization is usually the minimum requirement to influence the direction of that organization. This should be even more important in a democracy where people can voluntarily become citizens.”
— John DuPage, County Board Member, Wheaton, Ill.
“The idea of non-citizens being given voting rights is absurd. Combined with the proposed amnesty for illegals, it encourages violating our existing laws and is a slap in the face to the people that properly enter our country and work to gain their citizenship.”
— Kurt Vilendrer, Dawson County Commission, Dawsonville, Ga.