Vermont’s largest city has voted to allow noncitizens who are in the country legally to vote in local elections.
The proposed charter change for Burlington now must be considered by the Legislature and the Republican governor.
Burlington would be the third city in the state to make the change. Noncitizen residents are currently allowed to vote in municipal elections in Vermont’s capital city of Montpelier, and Winooski, the most diverse community in the state.
The Republican National Committee filed lawsuits against Montpelier and Winooski asking judges to declare noncitizen voting unconstitutional and lost those challenges. Federal law prohibits noncitizens from voting in federal elections, including races for president, vice president, Senate or House of Representatives.
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In January, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that such voting in local elections in Montpelier doesn’t violate the state constitution. A new complaint was filed in court Thursday against the city of Winooski by two residents, the Vermont Republican Party and the Republican National Committee. It said allowing noncitizens to vote on matters involving the city’s school board and education budget is unconstitutional.
“The Vermont Constitution draws a clear line that noncitizens are ineligible to vote in elections with statewide implications, which include questions about state-funded programs like public school education,” said Derek Lyons, the CEO and president of Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections, which is funding the lawsuit.