COLLEGE PARK, MD (WUSA9) - College Park's city council decided to delay the debate on non-citizen voting.
The city council will revisit the bill at their meeting on Sept. 12th.
On Tuesday, College Park’s mayor says a delay was likely on action to enact a proposal to allow non-US citizens to vote in the suburban Maryland jurisdiction.
A vote on the issue was scheduled for Tuesday evening, according to the city council’s agenda. A number of city officials have been the recipients of threats and harassment in the wake of national news coverage of the proposal.
However, Mayor Patrick L. Wojahn said threats do not play a role in the expected delay. Instead, there are a number of legal details that still need work, according to the mayor. Wojahn said leaders would like to consider several issues, including whether to restrict voting only to non-citizens who are holders of valid visas or who have permanent residency “green card” status, versus all classes of immigrants that reside in the city.
Some city council members have also questioned whether the non-citizen voting proposal should be subject to voter referendum rather than a vote by the council, according to Wojahn.
Police have been notified of at least one “very graphic threat” that has been made against Council member Christine C. Nagle as the scheduled vote approached.
The Prince George’s County Police Homeland Security Division is investigating the threat and officers will be assigned to provide security at the city’s regular council meeting Tuesday evening, according to police spokesman Cpl. Tyler Hunter.
Normally, no police are present for city council meetings in College Park.
Wojahn called the threats, online harassment, and insults “distressing.”
“It’s a symptom of how polarized and divided our country is right now,” the mayor said. “People who don’t live here feel the need to tell us how we should govern our own community.”
In a written statement, Nagle said the non-citizen voting proposal is purely a local matter.
“Quite frankly, I am shocked by all the media attention that is being given to College Park’s discussion about whether to extend voting rights to another group of city residents,” Council member Christine C. Nagle wrote.
“The Mayor and City Council are not deciding national policy; we make decisions about trash pick-up, snow removal and equipment for the parks,” Nagle continued. “I think we have shared concerns with our neighbors regardless of whether they are U.S. citizens. 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.”
At least 10 other Maryland jurisdictions—including Hyattsville and Takoma Park—allow Green Card holders and other non-U.S. citizens to vote if they are full-time residents.
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