Vermont Republican Governor Phil Scott Wants Non-Citizens to be Able to Vote in Local Elections

It’s not exclusively Democrats who want to let non-citizens vote in elections. John Binder of Breitbart News reported that Vermont Governor Phil Scot, a Republican, is asking elected officials in his state to pass an election law that would allow all non-citizens in Vermont to vote in local elections.

Scott recently vetoed two bills that intended to grant non-citizens the right to vote in local elections in Montpelier and Winooski, Vermont. Although, Scott did say that he is not fundamentally opposed to the concept of letting non-citizens vote. The catch is that state officials send him a bill that would allow non-citizens to vote in more municipalities, not just Montpelier and Winooski.

“This is an important policy discussion that deserves further consideration and debate,” Scott declared in his veto statements:
Allowing a highly variable town-by-town approach to municipal voting creates inconsistency in election policy, as well as separate and unequal classes of residents potentially eligible to vote on local issues. I believe it is the role of the Legislature to establish clarity and consistency on this matter. This should include defining how municipalities determine which legal residents may vote on local issues, as well as specifying the local matters they may vote on. Returning these bills provides the opportunity to do this important work. 

For these reasons I am returning this legislation without my signature pursuant to Chapter II, Section l1 of the Vermont Constitution. I understand these charter changes are well-intentioned, but I ask the Legislature to revisit the issue of non-citizen voting in a more comprehensive manner and develop a statewide policy or a uniform template and process for those municipalities wishing to grant the right of voting in local elections to all legal residents. 

In essence, this kind of policy would allow legal immigrants with green cards and work visas to vote in local elections throughout the state. Binder observed that migrants would be allowed to vote in “school board, mayoral, and city council races.”

Allowing non-citizens to vote is not a novel concept, which Binder highlighted below:
The city of San Francisco, California, famously gave non-citizens the right to vote in local school board elections in 2018.
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