Portland [Maine] residents will vote Nov. 2 on a proposal to give legal residents who are not U.S. citizens the right to vote in local elections, joining places like San Francisco and Chicago that have already loosened the rules or are considering it.
"We have immigrants who are playing key roles in different issues of this country, but they don't get the right to vote," said [Claude] Rwaganje, 40, who moved to the U.S. because of political strife in his native Congo and runs a nonprofit that offers to immigrants.
Opponents of the measure say immigrants already have an avenue to cast ballots -- by becoming citizens. Allowing noncitizens to vote dilutes the meaning of citizenship, they say, adding that it could lead to fraud and unfairly sway elections.
"My primary objection is I don't think it is right, I don't think it is just, I don't think it is fair," Portland resident Barbara Campbell Harvey said.
In San Francisco, a ballot question Nov. 2 will ask voters whether they want to allow noncitizens to vote in school board elections if they are the parents, legal guardians or caregivers of children in the school system.
Noncitizens are allowed to vote in school board elections in Chicago and in municipal elections in half a dozen towns in Maryland, said Ron Hayduk, a professor at the City University of New York and author of "Democracy for All: Restoring Immigrant Voting Rights in the United States."
New York City allowed noncitizens to vote in community school board elections until 2003, when the school board system was reorganized, and several municipalities in Massachusetts have approved allowing it but don't yet have the required approval from the Legislature, he said.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Our textbook notes (p. 261) that some localities do permit noncitizen voting in certain elections. AP reports: