It seems I heard someplace that non-citizens can vote in the United States. Since an election is upon us, I thought it might be worth checking into.
In 1996, Congress passed a law that was signed by Bill Clinton, which prohibited non-citizens from voting in federal elections, such as for U.S. House, Senate and the President. However, the law did not address state or local elections. As of now, only two states’ constitutions specify that it is illegal for non-citizens to vote. Those are Arizona and North Dakota. No state constitutions specifically allow non-citizen voting in state and local elections.
...there are 15 localities that do [allow non-citizens to vote]
As of January, 2022, there are no states that allow non-citizen voting, however there are 15 localities that do. Eleven of those are in Maryland and two in Vermont. The other two biggies are New York City and San Francisco.
A debate has actually developed around whether non-citizens should be allowed to vote. Those who say that they should, argue that such a prohibition isn’t right because of existing barriers to the naturalization process. They also suggest that such a ban encourages discrimination in public policy. They believe that allowing them to vote would not be a disincentive for them seeking citizenship and that allowing all residents to vote will make for better public policy.
Those who oppose non-citizen voting say that individuals should accept all duties and responsibilities of citizenship before being given the right to vote. They believe that providing them the vote would discourage them from taking on the responsibilities of citizenship. They believe current laws are not discriminatory and that citizen only voting makes for better public policy.
As you might guess, non-citizen voting does occur
As you might guess, non-citizen voting does occur. Its frequency depends on how rigorous polling places are with regard to verifying voter qualifications. Some organizations will argue that it happens enough to make an impact on elections. Others say it does not. They believe that the risk of being fined, imprisoned for up to a year and/or deported is too great for most.
Some indicate that those on the progressive side want non-citizen voting because they believe they would vote for progressives and their causes. Personally, I wonder about that since most of them came to the U.S. to get away from countries with socialist or communist rule where the government dictates their quality of life.
At this time, non-citizen voting appears to be an issue only in certain localities, however once the door is cracked open, where will it go from there? What do you think?