Our chapter on political participation notes that a number of states once allowed noncitizens to vote, and that a small number of municipalities currently let them vote in local elections. New Haven Mayor John DeStafano has proposed allowing noncitizens to vote in city elections, regardless of legal status. The New Haven Register editorializes:
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s trial balloon about letting citizens of other countries vote in his city’s elections appears to have been pricked as soon as it was publicly floated.
The proposal grows out of the fact that City Hall estimates there are 10,000 to 12,000 undocumented immigrants in New Haven. The mayor has attempted to involve undocumented immigrants in the city’s life, in part to encourage their cooperation with police in the investigation of crimes.
The reaction to allowing such immigrants to vote was quick and probably fatal to the mayor’s proposal. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy — who supported in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants at state universities — said he didn’t like it. “There are obligations that run with citizenship and there are privileges that run with citizenship. It’s not something that I’m inclined to support.”
Malloy’s comments were followed by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill pointing out that the state constitution specifies that only citizens who are 18 or older may vote. Amending the constitution to allow DeStefano’s proposal to become law would be a difficult, lengthy and almost certainly impossible political task, given the hostility to the proposal from outside New Haven, and doubts among city residents.