Two Vermont cities pass ordinance allowing illegal immigrants to vote in local elections

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VERMONT- Coming soon to a Democratic city, town, or state near you…illegals being permitted to vote. As part of a growing national trend, the Daily Signal reports, two cities in Vermont will allow noncitizens to vote in local elections, unless lawsuits prevent the laws from going into effect.

The two cities—Montpelier, the state’s capital with about 7,375 residents and Winooski, population 7,335 will permit noncitizens to vote in elections for offices such as mayor, city council and school board.

Both communities amended their city charters which were approved by voters in order to open up elections. The measures also had to be approved by the state’s Democratic controlled legislature, which approved it and then overrode a veto by Republican Gov. Phil Scott.

Ironically, Scott didn’t veto the bill because he opposed it but because he wanted the practice to be allowed statewide. More on that below. 

“These are very liberal cities with progressive Democrats,” said Rob Roper, president of the Ethan Allen institute, a free-market think tank based in Montpelier.

“Throughout much of the state, there is a general distaste for allowing anyone other than citizens over the age of 18 to vote,” he said. “Many oppose the idea [of noncitizen voting] and worry about the precedent.”

Last week, both the Vermont Republican Party and the Republican National Committee filed lawsuits against both cities in Vermont Superior Court, alleging that the state Constitution only allows U.S. citizens over the age of 18 to vote in the Green Mountain State.

A number of liberal states have cities that allow noncitizens to vote in some local elections, with San Francisco, Chicago, and a number of jurisdictions in Maryland permitting the practice. In New York City and Los Angeles, lawmakers are considering similar proposals.

According to U.S. census data, Vermont, one of the least populated states in the country has a minority population of only 4.7% while 94.2% of the state is White.

According to Roper, the numbers aren’t an accurate portrayal of the state.

“Winooski has a very large refugee population and is the only majority-minority legislative district in the state,” he said. “There is an illegal immigrant constituency that is hired by the dairy farms.”

The mayor of Montpelier, Mary Anne Watson said she believed it unfortunate that the issue became partisan, telling VT Digger, a news site that a “clear majority of Montpelier voters voted to have this measure.”

“We are a nonpartisan local government here in Montpelier, and it’s unfortunate that this has been made a partisan issue,” she said.

Watson is an independent.

The Daily Signal reached out to officials in Winooski, and received an email from Mayor Kristine Lott, in which she reiterated a public statement made after the above lawsuits were filed:

More than two-thirds of Winooski voters supported this change, which I believe is an important step in improving equity in our community.

This charter change would give an elevated voice to a tenth of our residents who send their kids to our schools, pay their taxes, create economic opportunities, and enrich Winooski’s cultural and social fabric. There is no reason to expect residents to contribute without representation in our local elections. Many residents spend years living in Winooski while their path to citizenship is lengthy, expensive, and full of barriers.

I am disappointed by this lawsuit, but more importantly, I remain proud of the work that has gone into this process by our voters, commissioners, councilors, and representatives.

While the cities of Winooski and Montpelier are directly named in these lawsuits, it is worth pointing out that the state Legislature supported and approved our charter change.

The state of Vermont made the legally binding amendment to our charter and in the end, the Supreme Court of Vermont may well have to weigh in.

However, Ronna McDaniel, chairperson of the Republican National Committee said that allowing illegals to vote, even in municipal elections, undermines trust in the process, while also noting that Democrats have also opposed voter ID requirements and other measures to ensure safe and secure elections.

“Republicans are fighting back on this far-left assault against election integrity—unlike radical Democrats, we believe that our elections should be decided solely by American citizens,” McDaniel said in a public statement.

“This is a matter of principle and we will fight in all 50 states to ensure this remains the case.”

Under a 1996 federal law, noncitizens are specifically prohibited from voting in federal elections for president or Congress, however it does not address local elections.

Christine Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation said actions such as those taken by the two Vermont cities are a precursor to change the electorate long-term.

“Democrats are playing the long game,” Adams told The Daily Signal. “This is virtue signaling. The long-term play is to normalize ineligible foreigners to voting in all American elections.”

Roper also agreed, saying the strategy is to “take small bites of the loaf and say, ‘It’s only local elections.’”

“Eventually, you could argue it’s such a pain for town clerks to keep two voter lists [one for local elections, another for state or national]. You can imagine politicians asking, ‘Why can’t the people working on the dairy farms vote?’ These are incremental moves.”

Two of the leading “voting rights” groups in the country have yet to weigh in on the lawsuits filed in Vermont by the RNC and Vermont Republican Party.

Stacey Abrams, who still hasn’t conceded the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race and founder of Fair Fight thinks illegals should be allowed to vote in local elections, or at least did in 2019.

“I wouldn’t oppose it,” she said then. “I think there’s a difference between municipal and state and federal. The granularity of what cities decide is so specific, as to, I think, allow for people to be participants in the process without it somehow undermining our larger democratic ethic that says that you should be a citizen to be part of the conversation.”

Yes, she used a big word.

The Daily Signal said it reached out to Abrams’ group, the ACLU of Vermont and the Brennan center, another “voting rights group” for comment however didn’t receive a response.

Hans von Spakovsky, manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative at The Heritage Foundation says that any noncitizen looking to participate in elections should commit to becoming a citizen.

“It’s a very bad idea to allow noncitizens to vote. Voting is a very special right and it should only be given to citizens who have a hand in the democratic institutions that we have,” he told the Daily Signal. “Noncitizens don’t have that, because they haven’t made the commitment to become citizens.”

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For our report on the original proposals and Gov. Scott’s veto, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

MONTPELIER, VT – Republican Governor Phil Scott recently vetoed two pieces of legislation that would have granted legal residents, who are not full U.S. citizens, the right to vote in local elections in Montpelier and Winooski.

However, the rationale for vetoing the pieces of legislation wasn’t due to Governor Scott exactly being against non-citizens obtaining voting rights in local elections, but he would rather see legislation that creates a statewide approach on legal residents voting in local elections.

https://twitter.com/JxhnBxnder/status/1400632855978463242

Lawmakers recently presented Governor Scott legislation that would’ve granted non-citizen residents (not to be confused with illegal immigrants) the ability to vote in local elections in Montpelier and Winooski.

Yet, Governor Scott vetoed the two bills brought before him, noting concerns about inconsistencies granting such legislation would create.

On June 1st, Governor Scott wrote the following explanation for the aforementioned vetoes:

“This is an important policy discussion that deserves further consideration and debate. Allowing a highly variable town-by-town approach to municipal voting creates inconsistency in election policy, as well as separate and unequal classes of residents potentially eligible to vote on local issues.

I believe it is the role of the Legislature to establish clarity and consistency on this matter.

This should include defining how municipalities determine which legal residents may vote on local issues, as well as specifying the local matters they may vote on. Returning these bills provides the opportunity to do this important work.”

Governor Scott’s added in his rationale for the vetoes that he’d prefer to see lawmakers craft legislation that would create a statewide approach on non-citizens voting in local elections:

“I understand these charter changes are well-intentioned, but I ask the Legislature to revisit the issue of non-citizen voting in a more comprehensive manner and develop a statewide policy or a uniform template and process for those municipalities wishing to grant the right of voting in local elections to all legal residents.”

The spirit behind such an effort would potentially see the likes of legal residents who haven’t fully attained citizenship in the country being able to vote for things like mayoral races, city council, school board elections and so on in Vermont.

Legal residents who aren’t full-blown citizens usually fall under an LPR status (green card holders) or some iteration of a non-immigrant visa holder permitted to work within the United States.

Barring some very specific instances pertaining to non-immigrant visa holders, both classes of non-citizens are held to the same tax liabilities as that of any other U.S. citizen.

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In other recent news pertaining to legislation, lawmakers in Michigan passed a veto-proof bill that would offer respite to businesses that were fined under various COVID restrictions after Governor Whitmer was caught violating one of her own orders on camera. 

Here’s that previous report from May. 

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LANSING, MI – After reports and photos circulated of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer violating her own pandemic restrictions regarding group sizes at dining establishments, the Michigan House reportedly passed a veto-proof bill that would refund all COVID-related fines for businesses that made a one-time infringement.

Back on May 23rd, a report originally published by Breitbart news showcased a photo of Governor Whitmer with a group of friends that had pushed together a couple of tables at a bar called the Landshark located in East Lansing.

The photo in question showed Governor Whitmer among at least twelve other people in the photo at this establishment, which was in violation of her restaurant capacity order that imposed a six-person limit on groups dining out together.

Specifically, that order the Michigan governor violated was among an update to the “Gatherings and Face Mask Order” dated May 15th, 2021.

In response to the revelation of Governor Whitmer violating her own orders pertaining to pandemic restrictions and guidelines, she issued the following statement:

“Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been committed to following public health protocols. Yesterday, I went with friends to a local restaurant. As more people arrived, the tables were pushed together. Because we were all vaccinated, we didn’t stop to think about it. In retrospect, I should have thought about it. I am human. I made a mistake, and I apologize.”

She also managed to avoid being fined, despite the fact that numerous businesses in her state were subjected to these very sorts of fines for similar infractions.

On May 25th, a veto-proof majority of Michigan representatives passed HB 4501, which is a bill that would refund businesses that were subject to any pandemic related fines so long as it was the business’ first infraction and they took steps to rectify the issue outlined in the fine.

During a house floor speech regarding the bill, Republican Representative Steve Johnson stated the following about why the bill should be passed:

“To highlight the importance of this legislation, I want to tell you a story about how easy it is to violate these orders – how easy it is to get caught on one of these – and why it’s important why we have some mercy here.

“See, there was an individual that wanted to hang out with some friends. And what better place to hang out than at a restaurant? And they’re hanging out at the restaurant, and they made, as what she described, as an ‘honest mistake’ – they pushed some tables together.

“Now the problem with that is, now you’re violating the governor’s social distancing requirements. Now if that would’ve happened to a business in my district, that thousands of dollars of fines on you.

“Well, the good news for this individual is she happens to be the governor of Michigan. No fines. No citations. No penalties. Must be nice.

“Colleagues, the question before you today is should the businesses in our district get the same treatment as the governor. That’s all I’m asking.”

Clearly, the message shared by Rep. Johnson resonated with the House floor, as the bill passed the House in a 74-34 vote in favor of the bill.

HB 4501 has since been referred over to the State Senate’s Committee on Economic and Small Business Development.

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