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 January 25, 2023

Vermont Supreme Court rules that non-citizens may continue to vote in local elections

Non-citizen residents in Vermont's capital city of Montpelier may continue to vote in municipal elections, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday, stating that such voting in local elections does not violate the state constitution.

The higher court upheld a lower court ruling, dismissing the claim, in its decision on an appeal, according to The Foreign Desk.

“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 Democrat-controlled Vermont Legislature approved two separate bills in 2021 to amend the municipal charters of Montpelier and Winooski, the state's most diverse communities, to allow legal residents who are not U.S. citizens to vote in local elections.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the bills, but the legislature overruled him.

The Republican National Committee filed lawsuits against two Vermont cities, requesting that judges rule that non-citizen voting is unconstitutional.

Those challenges were unsuccessful. Non-citizens are not permitted to vote in federal elections, including those for president, vice president, Senate, or House of Representatives. The New York State Supreme Court ruled in June that non-citizens could not vote in local elections.

Earlier this year, the City Council of New York approved legislation granting non-citizens the right to vote in local elections.

Republican lawmakers challenged the measure in court, and the New York Supreme Court ruled that non-citizens do not have the right to vote, according to The Conservative Brief.

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

Justice Ralph Porzio declared the law unconstitutional, claiming 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.

“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.”

Written By:
Charlotte Tyler

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