Non-citizen Voting – RIP, Again

By Stanley Renshon and Stanley Renshon on November 3, 2010

Among the many important results yesterday's election is the resounding defeat of two measures that would have allowed non-citizens to vote. In previous entries, here, here, here, and elsewhere, I had taken up the most recent efforts to do away with the requirement that only citizens be allowed to vote.

The two proposals, one in San Francisco, the other in Portland, Maine were defeated by voters. In Portland, the unofficial result was 9,325, or 51.5 percent, against and 8,874, or 48.5 percent, in favor. The Portland initiative would have allowed non-citizens to cast ballots in school board, city council and other local races.

The San Francisco measure was more limited in scope and would only have allowed non-citizen parents to vote in school board elections. That initiative failed to garner a majority of voter approval and thus was not enacted. It was the second time that such a measure has failed, the first being in 2004.

These bills now join a growing list of defeats for non-citizen voting bills in recent years; in New York State, Minnesota, Texas, Washington D.C., and Arlington, Va.

In Massachusetts, the cities of Amherst, Cambridge, and Newton have all passed ordinances allowing non-citizen voting, but despite repeated efforts the state legislature has over many years refused to approve the ordinances. Virtually all state constitutions reserve the right to vote to citizens.

As the above list makes clear, Americans have spoken often on this subject and when given the chance have repeatedly expressed their preference for keeping the right to vote directly tied to being an American citizen.

Will advocates of non-citizen voting listen after another round of defeats? Probably not.