Vermont Supreme Court rules in favor of noncitizen voting | Local News

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Non-citizen residents can continue to vote in municipal elections in Vermont’s capital, Montpelier, the state Supreme Court ruled on Friday, ruling that such voting in local elections does not violate the state constitution.

In its decision on an appeal, the higher court upheld a decision of the lower court, dismissing the claim.

“The law allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections in Montpelier does not violate Chapter II, § 42 because this constitutional provision does not apply to local elections,” the Supreme Court wrote.

In 2021, the Democrat-controlled Vermont Legislature approved two separate bills to amend the municipal charters of Montpelier and Winooski, the state’s most diverse community, to allow legal residents who do not are not US citizens to vote in local elections. Republican Governor Phil Scott vetoed the measures, but the legislature overruled his vetoes.

The Republican National Committee filed lawsuits against the two Vermont cities asking judges to declare the noncitizen vote unconstitutional and lost those challenges. Federal law prohibits non-citizens from voting in federal elections, including races for President, Vice President, Senate, or House of Representatives.

Montpelier and Winooski are among more than a dozen communities in a handful of states — including New York and a number of cities in Maryland — that allow noncitizens to vote in local elections. Seven states, including Ohio, have measures barring noncitizens from voting in local elections, according to the group Americans for Citizen Voting.

Voting was extended to noncitizens in both Vermont communities after local voters approved the measures, supporters said.

In November 2018, voters in Montpellier, a city of about 8,000, approved a request for a charter change to allow non-US citizens to vote in municipal elections. Voters backed the measure by a nearly two-to-one margin, said Montpelier City Council President Jack McCullough. The city currently has nine registered non-citizen voters, according to the city manager.

“We are pleased that our choice to welcome the participation of all members of our community has been upheld by the Supreme Court,” McCullough said in a statement. “Our Declaration of Independence says that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and I believe that includes all of our residents. I hope this will encourage more eligible voters to register, vote and fully participate in our democratic institutions.

In Winooski, a town of about 7,300 that is home to immigrants from around the world, 55 noncitizens voted on local issues during the state’s annual town hall day in March 2022.

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Vermont Supreme Court rules in favor of noncitizen voting | Local News

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