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Tags: noncitizens | residents | voting | rights

Professor: Allowing All Residents to Vote 'Only Makes Sense'

By    |   Tuesday, 23 December 2014 04:24 PM EST

The fight for noncitizen voting rights is the "suffrage movement of our time," political scientist professor Ron Hayduk predicts.

In an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times, City University of New York, Queens College, the professor writes citizenship is required for federal elections.

"But what most don't know is that the right to vote in this country has never been intrinsically tied to citizenship," he writes. "And even now, in a few jurisdictions and on some issues, noncitizens have a limited right to vote."

"As it turns out, voting by noncitizens is as old as the Republic," he adds. "From 1776 until 1926 in 40 states and federal territories, residents who weren't citizens could vote in local, state, and sometimes federal elections."

He said allowing all residents to vote "only makes sense."

Citing Census Bureau data, Hayduk argues more than 22 million adults in the United States can't vote because they lack citizenship. For example, he writes, noncitizens make up more than a third of the voting-age population, and in New York City, they are 22 percent of adults.

"Such levels of political exclusion approximate the exclusion of women prior to 1920, African-Americans before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and 18-year-olds prior to 1971," he writes.

"The right to vote helps keep our democracy inclusive and fair, and resident voting is the next logical step toward creating a truly universal franchise," he adds. "It is what America's past and future as an immigrant nation requires. Noncitizen voting is the suffrage movement of our time."

Hayduk notes a trend underway, pointing to jurisdictions where noncitizens may vote, including in six towns in Maryland, and in school district elections in Chicago.

Next year, he writes, the New York City Council will take up a bill to allow noncitizens lawfully residing in the United States to vote in local elections, and Burlington, Vt., and the District of Columbia are mulling similar moves.

"Sadly, America knows all too well what can occur when groups don't have a formal political voice: discriminatory public policy and private practices — in employment, housing, education, healthcare, welfare and criminal justice," he writes.

"Noncitizens suffer social and economic inequities, in part, because policymakers can ignore their interests. The vote is a proven mechanism to keep government responsive and accountable to all."

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The fight for noncitizen voting rights is the "suffrage movement of our time," political scientist professor Ron Hayduk predicts.
noncitizens, residents, voting, rights
383
2014-24-23
Tuesday, 23 December 2014 04:24 PM
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