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VT Supreme Court Rules Noncitizens Can Continue Voting in Local Elections

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The Vermont Supreme Court has ruled that allowing noncitizens to vote in local municipal elections is not a violation of the state constitution, and therefore they can continue to do so. The ruling upheld a lower court which said that noncitizens may continue to vote in municipal elections in Vermont’s capital city of Montpelier, the Associated Press reported.

“The statute allowing noncitizens to vote in local Montpelier elections does not violate Chapter II, § 42 because that constitutional provision does not apply to local elections,” the Supreme Court wrote.

The AP noted further: “In 2021, the Democrat-controlled Vermont Legislature approved two separate bills to change the municipal charters of Montpelier and Winooski, the most diverse community in the state, to allow legal residents who are not U.S. citizens to vote in local elections. Republican Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the measures, but the Legislature overrode his vetoes. The Republican National Committee filed lawsuits against the two Vermont cities asking judges to declare noncitizen voting unconstitutional and lost those challenges. Federal law prohibits noncitizens from voting in federal elections, including races for president, vice president, Senate or House of Representatives.”

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In June, the New York state Supreme Court ruled that non-citizens can not vote in local elections.

Earlier last year, New York City’s City Council approved a measure to give non-citizens the right to vote in local elections.

Republican lawmakers filed a lawsuit against the measure and the New York Supreme Court ruled that non-citizens do not have the right to vote.

The plan would have added roughly 800,000 New Yorkers to the voting rolls and would have allowed them to vote for the mayor, public advocate, city council, borough presidents, and school boards.

Justice Ralph Porzio called the law illegal, saying it violated the New York State Constitution.

“The New York State Constitution expressly states that citizens meeting the age and residency requirements are entitled to register and vote in elections,” he said.

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“Though voting is a right so many citizens take for granted, the City of New York cannot ‘obviate’ the restrictions imposed by the Constitution,” Porzio continued, going on to say that “the weight of the citizens’ vote will be diluted by municipal voters and candidates and political parties alike will need to reconfigure their campaigns.”

In striking down the law, Porzio said that: “Though Plaintiffs have not suffered harm today, the harm they will suffer is imminent.”

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Staten Island City Councilman Joe Brelli applauded the ruling, saying: “Today’s decision validates those of us who can read the plain English words of our state constitution and state statutes: Noncitizen voting in New York is illegal, and shame on those who thought they could skirt the law for political gain. Opposition to this measure was bipartisan and cut across countless neighborhood and ethnic lines, yet progressives chose to ignore both our constitution and public sentiment in order to suit their aims. I commend the court in recognizing reality and reminding New York’s professional protestor class that the rule of law matters.”

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Borelli had opposed the bill at the time, saying that “someone who has lived here for 30 days will have a say in how we raise our taxes, our debt, and long-term pension liabilities. These are things people who are temporary residents should not have a say in.”

Democrats have also pushed to lower the legal age to vote from 18 to 16, likely because they believe younger Americans tend to be more liberal. But many of them also oppose allowing 18-year-olds to buy firearms, tobacco, or liquor.

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