Mayor Bowser: Please Veto the Non-Citizen Voting Bill  

On Oct. 19, the Council of the District of Columbia voted 12-1 to allow all non-citizens residing in Washington, D.C., for more than 30 days to vote in elections. That would include illegal border crossers, who came in to D.C. this summer, as well as an estimated 50,000 diplomats and staffs of embassies, visiting workers, scholars, performers, business people and those with temporary protected but non-immigration status.

It is a bad idea. Mayor Muriel Bowser needs to veto this bill.

Voting is the inherent right of citizens with years of affiliation and legal attachment to a country. This extreme non-citizen voting bill devalues citizenship. Previously, the Council has debated bills allowing immigrants to vote in local elections who hold Permanent Legal Resident permits (aka green cards) the only permit from which an immigrant can apply for citizenship. Those bills never passed.

Yet, suddenly, this extreme version allowing all non-citizens to vote is passed in less than two months. Bowser expressed concern that it “moved on without much input.” Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh  the only nay vote expressed concerns about recent arrivals voting. Just how do they actually pay in taxes? How much could they know in a few weeks about local issues in order to cast a vote where substantial local property and taxpayer money is to be committed?

Even some immigrant rights groups expressed concerns. As law, enabling non-citizens to vote in D.C. puts non-citizen voters at risk of committing a felony that could lead to deportation voting in a federal election. District ballots are unique in that they contain both federal and local choices. How does a non-citizen distinguish what they can vote on? How is that managed?

“Is this progressive virtuous equity-posturing to make us feel better that we’re giving all people equally the right to vote? Is it a benefit really when it puts non-citizens in danger of committing a felony?” the executive director of CARECEN, an immigrants’ rights organization, wrote in the student publication, The Georgetown Voice.

“Some progressives hope that reshaping the electorate will allow them to reshape local politics, prodding the city further to the left on issues such as rent control and spending on social programs,” opined the Washington Post. “Sponsors of the bill are rushing to get it enacted before the 30-day Congressional review period expires and Republicans are likely to become the majority party and not approve it.”

Bowser needs to veto this bill, and let it rest for another session to work out more reasonable limitations.  


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