City in Maryland May Let Noncitizens Vote, a Practice With U.S. Precedent

In Voting On

As a federal commission searches for evidence of voter fraud and many states try to impose new voting restrictions, a city in Maryland may move in the opposite direction: allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections.

In College Park, home to the University of Maryland’s flagship campus, the City Council is debating a measure introduced by Councilwoman Christine Nagle that would give noncitizens — a broad category that includes green card holders, students with visas and undocumented immigrants — the right to cast ballots for the city’s mayor, council members and other local officials.

Startling though it may seem, the proposal has extensive precedent both in the United States and worldwide: Forty states used to allow noncitizen voting, and dozens of countries currently do.

“The mayor and City Council are not deciding national policy,” Ms. Nagle wrote in an email. “We make decisions about trash pickup, snow removal and equipment for the parks. I think we have shared concerns with our neighbors regardless of whether they are U.S. citizens.”

She added: “Our neighbors have children in school, work, pay property taxes and income taxes, and make their home in College Park just like we do. As residents of our community, I think, they also should be able to have a say in electing the city’s leadership.”

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