City Desk

Legislation Would Allow Non-Citizen, Permanent Residents to Vote in Local Elections

Councilmember David Grosso introduced legislation today that would allow foreign citizens who have permanent resident status to vote in local elections.

The bill would require green card holders to live in the District for at least 30 days prior to the election.

"Pot holes, community centers, playgrounds, minimum wage, taxes, supercans, snow removal, alley closings, alcohol license moratoriums, red light cameras… these are all important issues that voters in the District of Columbia entrust their leaders with," Grosso said in his introduction on the dais today. "And unfortunately, not all of our residents have say in choosing the individuals who make these decisions. In my opinion, that is unjust."

There are about 53,975 foreign-born District residents who are not naturalized citizens, according to 2012 Census data, and over 90 percent of these residents are 18 years of age or older. A Grosso spokeswoman says she isn't sure how many of these residents would be qualified to vote; only those who had permanent resident status would be included.

Grosso said that seven other jurisdictions, six of which are in Maryland, already have similar laws on the books.

Council members Tommy Wells, Jim Graham, and Muriel Bowser are co-sponsoring the “Local Resident Voting Rights Act of 2013.”

The legislation still needs to be approved by a committee before it goes to the Council, and ultimately, the mayor for final approval.

Read the current text of the bill below:

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  1. #1

    This is the sort of politically tone-deaf DC idea that guarantees that DC will never have congressional voting rights in our lifetime! Way to go, Grosso!

  2. #2

    This is the sort of politically tone-deaf DC idea that guarantees that DC will never have congressional voting rights in our lifetime! Way to go, Grosso!

  3. #3

    Not only no, but HELL NO!!

  4. #4

    once you've been a lawful permanent resident for 5 years, you can take the test and become a citizen. that's not easy and it costs money, but I don't think it's unreasonable to ask people to go through that process in order to vote. Perhaps Grosso could support an organization that helps people become citizens (Ayuda, Carlos Rosario school, etc.) and even create a nonprofit fund that pays the fees for District residents to become citizens.

  5. #5

    @Bob and @Corky, where's the mischief here? Why are you so opposed?

  6. #6

    @Art - these people are NOT CITIZENS. Do you understand THAT? You need to be a citizen to vote anywhere else in the world. It's one of the incentives to becoming a citizen - the right to participate and VOTE.

  7. #7

    Many people have strong opinions against this idiocy. Don't be afraid to share yours.

    Grosso's office is reachable at (202) 724-8105. Call them and let them know how you feel. I sure did.

  8. #8

    No way. DC could end up with 10% of the population influencing political policy in DC. Why isn't it a good idea, because these individuals get enough form this country. If they want to influence policy and politics become a citizen! Do you think other countries would allow a US ex-pat to vote in their elections? They do with very strong restrictives in effect amounting to very few votes. This country has "Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" NOW without any effort you want to give them the right to VOTE! HELL no take allegiance to the US and you can vote !

  9. #9

    OMG another reason why grosso has got to go...he is an IDIOT and look who co-signs...Bowser another Idiot!!

  10. #10

    Actually, only since the anti-immigrant sentiments of the early 20th century has voting been limited to citizens. For the first 125 years of the existence of this country, resident aliens were permitted to vote. Grosso's bill would merely restore that right.

    And why not? Noncitizen residents have a stake in the governance of this city. They pay taxes, DC and Federal. So why shouldn't they have a say in who's running the government?

    Clearly, they should.

  11. #11

    I'm forwarding this to our congressional representatives, Issa and Norton, because David weed smoking is interfering with his ability to make rational decisions. I can't believe that two mayoral candidates-- Wells and Bowser-- have the audacity to back this insult to US citizens!

  12. #12

    Washingtonians please know that our elected officials will do anything to win, and that means granting non-citizens with the same equal rights of deserving citizens.

    It is not about, having money vs. earning your citizenship, and that's the law.

    If things continue at this rate, there will be no need for citizenship in the United the States of America.

  13. #13

    Connecting the right to vote to payment or ability to pay taxes is an idea straight out of Koch Bros. and the Heritage Foundation.

    “This trend should concern everyone who supports America’s republican form of government,” Beach and Tyrrell wrote. “If the citizens’ representatives are elected by an increasing percentage of voters who pay no income tax, how long will it be before these representatives respond more to demands for yet more entitlements and subsidies from non-payers than to the pleas of taxpayers to exercise greater spending prudence?”

  14. #14

    Permanent residents (similar to green card) in other countries actually usually CAN vote. The US is one of the few countries where they can't, and it's only been for a short while in recent US history that they can't. If someone lives in the US for 20 years, has a house, pays taxes, etc. why not let them vote?

  15. #15

    If this "BOB" did any due diligence, "BOB" would learn that the examples he cites are overwhelming reciprocity rights conferred by multinational unions such as the EU and Commonwealth of Nations. Foreign nationals of nonmember nation are excluded.

    Twenty years isn't 30 days. The suggested timeline of 30 day residency of this proposal do not guarantee that green card carrying persons pay into DC coffers as its proponents claim. Income taxes are assessed for the previous year and property taxes are due twice a year in March and September. Under this bill, a person could prove 30 day residency by the end of October merely showing a Pepco bill and vote in November and move away.

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