For over two hundred years, or basically ever since the American voting system was put into place, selecting our local and national leaders has only been a privilege of the American citizen. After all, it only makes sense that those who are not permanent residents of the United States shouldn’t get a voice in deciding our leaders or our laws.
However, as immigration has changed over the years, allowing student and working visas or temporary residency to those from foreign nations, many have suggested that those individuals be given such a voice.
Now, typically those with this line of thinking tend to come from those on the political left. However, Republican Vermont Governor Phil Scott is proving to be an exception to that.
Recently, the state legislature passed two bills onto Scott’s desk that would have made it legal for non-citizens to vote in local elections for Montpelier and Winooski, Vermont. And while Scott vetoed the bills, it isn’t because he thinks these people shouldn’t get a vote.
Instead, Scott says the bills were shot down because they only addressed two cities and not the entire state, making the law inconsistent.
He wrote in both veto letters to Clerk of the Vermont House of Representatives BetsyAnn Wrask, “I understand these charter changes are well-intentioned, but I ask the Legislature to revisit the issue of noncitizens voting in a more comprehensive manner and develop a statewide policy or uniform template and process for those municipalities wishing to grant the right of voting in local elections to all legal residents.”
He continued, saying that “(t)his is an important policy discussion that deserves further consideration and debate.” But “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.”
Therefore, Scott suggests that the issue be returned to the legislative houses of the state to establish “clarity and consistency.”
However, as they are both Democratically controlled, the houses may choose to use their own powers of veto to override the GOP governor’s wishes.
As Democratic state Senate, President Pro Tempore Becca Balint says, “You can bet we’ll be back for a veto session,” accord to Seven Days.
It really shouldn’t really be all that surprising either. After all, this is the left-leaning state that has kept self-proclaimed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders as a senator for decades now. Hell, they even voted to put him in the White House.
And given the state’s tendency to lean ultra-left, I’m betting a Republican leader such as Scott has to compromise on a great number of issues to keep his constituents and legislature happy. As it stands now, he has already given out more vetoes, a whopping 23, than any other governor in the state’s history – no doubt because of his more centralized views.
Now, that isn’t to say that voting reform hasn’t been a significant talking point in recent months for the Republican Party. After the highly controversial 2020 election, in which it has been alleged that massive amounts of voter fraud took place throughout the nation, state legislatures have been pushing for laws that increase voter security and integrity.
However, those moves have been brought to light by members of the Republican Party alone for the most part. And none of them, with the exception of Vermont, has included measures allowing noncitizens to vote.
In fact, in any state with a Republican governor, most similar suggestions don’t even make it to the voting floor, let alone the discussion table.
And yet, in Vermont, not one but two bills have been passed by both houses and sent on to the governor. Furthermore, as Scott says, if the measures had more inclusive statewide or more “consistent,” they just might have been passed.
Needless to say, this will be an issue to watch in the coming days as decisions will soon be made to either override the veto or bring the matter back to Senate and House debates.