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Council Mulls Allowing Non-Citizens to Vote in City Elections

Proud to vote!

At tonight’s meeting, the City Council will discuss the possibility of extending the ability to vote in municipal elections to City residents who are not citizens of the United States.

Currently, the City uses the voter’s list supplied by the Prince George’s County Board of Elections.  Prince George’s County maintains voter rolls that comply with the state of Maryland voter registration qualifications.  State qualifications include the requirements that a person is a citizen of the United States, not be serving a court ordered the sentence of imprisonment for a felony conviction, not have a conviction for buying or selling votes and not be under guardianship for mental disability found by a court.

Many residents who do not have US citizenship are part of the College Park community.  They have children in our schools and pay City property taxes.  By allowing these members of our community to participate in the City’s municipal election they will feel more invested in civic life and be able to have a say in local issues that impact their community.

Currently, seven municipalities in Maryland allow non-US citizens to vote in their municipal elections. They are Hyattsville, Takoma Park, Barnesville, Garrett Park, Glen Echo, Martin’s Additions and Somerset.

From 1776 until the 1920s, noncitizens were widely permitted to participate in elections and there were 40 states that allowed it.  A wave of pervasive anti-immigrant sentiment after World War I caused Congress to restrict the number of new immigrants and caused states to change their inclusive practices.  It was not until 1996 that Congress passed legislation making it a crime for noncitizens to vote in federal elections.

Enabling City residents who are not US citizens to vote in municipal elections will require an amendment to the City’s Charter.  Council would also need to decide whether to keep a supplemental list of voters who are non-US Citizens and still use the County’s voter’s list or maintain a complete list of voters eligible to vote in City elections.

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1 Comment to “Council Mulls Allowing Non-Citizens to Vote in City Elections”

  1. By George Sullivan, August 8, 2017 @ 4:39 pm

    I was born and have continued to live in College Park my whole life. I have hoped to continue to live here and bring College park back to life. The days of the boys and girls club parade down Rhode Island ave, to the mini concerts they use to have in Duvall field. I feel if you pass Charter Amendment to extend the ability to vote in City elections to non-U.S. citizens you will loose legal tax paying citizens like myself. A few thoughts about this has really concerned me. One why would the city break the law by allowing illegal aliens to one be in the city and now vote? Second why not let the people vote? You know the ones that voted you in. Are you afraid that this bill won’t pass? In my opinion if this bill passes I think the people of College park should clean house and elect new politicians. On a side note my mother has lived in the 4700 block of Nantucket road since the 1970’s and between 2 house they have 20 cars on the street, with D.C. Tags. Parking on that street has become and parking lot with no care in sight from the city. College park can’t even uphold the laws on the books and now you want to create more.

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