DC Council Moves To Let Noncitizens Vote Locally

Earlier this week, the Washington, D.C. city council voted for a bill allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections.

The council voted 12-1 and will vote on the bill a second time in November, reported the Post Millennial.

It will then be sent to Mayor Muriel Bowser for approval.

The bill was introduced by council member Charles Allen and says that if a noncitizen is qualified to vote, and has resided in Washington, D.C., for at least 30 days, they can do so in local elections.

“This bill is in line with our D.C. values and this council’s history of expanding the right to vote and welcoming new voices into our political process and government,” said Allen before the vote.

He argued that “our immigrant neighbors of all statuses participate, contribute and care about our community in our city,” and therefore “deserve a right to have a say in their government.”

“They raise families here, contribute to their community. They run businesses that people depend on, and they pay taxes that we decide how to spend,” he continued.

Allen noted that immigrants do not currently have the ability to vote for the leaders that make decisions affecting them.

He also pointed out that D.C. already allows voting from those incarcerated, out-of-state college students, those who do not pay taxes, and those without a fixed residence.

The only vote against the bill came from Mary Cheh, who called it “eminently supportable” but noted one problem.

Cheh explained that the 30-day time frame was too short for her liking.

“Someone who took the bus from Texas, or was put on the bus from Texas, or wherever, and dropped off at the vice president’s property, and then remained in the District of Columbia for 30 days and was 18 years old — could that person then vote in our local elections?” she asked.

She stressed that her concern “has nothing to do with citizenship,” but the idea that “somebody who has had no connection at all with the United States, with its culture, its democracy, can be dropped off here, reside for 30 days, and vote in a local election.”

“What is wrong with asking they stay a little bit longer?” Cheh added.

Over the past few weeks, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has sent buses full of migrants to D.C., many of which get dropped off near Vice President Kamala Harris’ home. 

Last year, New York City passed a similar bill that also had a 30-day requirement, but it was overturned after a lawsuit.