Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) is asking state lawmakers to pass an elections law that would allow non-citizens across the state to vote in local municipality elections.
Scott vetoed two pieces of legislation that sought to give non-citizens the right to vote in local elections in Montpelier and Winooski, Vermont. However, he said he is not opposed to the plan but wants state legislatures to send him a bill that would give non-citizens the right to vote, statewide, in local elections.
“This is an important policy discussion that deserves further consideration and debate,” Scott wrote in his vetoes:
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 speciffing the local matters they may vote on. Returning these bills provides the opportunity to do this important work. [Emphasis added]
For these reasons I am returning this legislation without my signature pursuant to Chapter II, Section l1 of the Vermont Constitution. 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. [Emphasis added]
Such a statewide policy could mean that legal immigrants with green cards and work visas would be allowed to vote in Vermont’s local elections like school board, mayoral, and city council races.
The city of San Francisco, California, famously gave non-citizens the right to vote in local school board elections in 2018.
The policy has become a mainstream Democrat position, with failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams saying in 2019 that she would not “oppose” non-citizens voting in local elections.