Amid a national controversy over immigration, noncitizens may soon be able to legally vote in Boston. The city is looking for ways to make elections there more inclusive.
Boston.com reports that City Council President Andrea Campbell has requested a hearing that will discuss several options for changing city elections. Changes under discussion will include the possibility of allowing noncitizens to vote in municipal elections. Ultimately, the right to vote could be extended to legal permanent residents, visa holders, people on Temporary Protected Status and those participating in the DACA program.
In the order calling for the hearing, Campbell noted that Boston has more than 190,000 foreign-born residents, equivalent to about 28 percent of the city’s residents. She also said that noncitizens paid $116 million in state and local taxes and were responsible for $3.4 billion spent in the city.
It is important to note that any new voting laws in Boston would apply only to city elections. US citizenship would still be required to vote in state and federal elections.
Boston would not be the first city to expand the franchise to noncitizens. Maryland and Illinois currently allow local governments to decide whether noncitizens can vote in local elections. The National Conference of State Legislators notes that Takoma Park, Maryland has allowed noncitizens to vote is city elections since 1993.
The Boston city council hearing on the matter will be held today.