WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, the DC Council voted, almost unanimously, in favor of the Local Resident Voting Rights Act of 2021 to move forward in the legislative process.
WUSA9 previously reported with our VERIFY team that if this bill passes it would allow non-citizens to vote in D.C. elections, including undocumented immigrants.
Brianne Nadeau is the lead sponsor of the bill, with Councilmembers Lewis George, Silverman, Henderson, Pino, R. White and Allen co-sponsoring.
The bill has passed the 'First Reading' process in a legislative meeting with 12 council members voting in favor of the bill and one council member, Mary Cheh, voting against it.
The bill would give all non-citizens the opportunity to vote in local city elections. That includes races for D.C. Mayor, chairman or member of the council, attorney general, board of education, ANC, and any initiative, referendum recall or charter referendum.
Although this bill would allow non-citizens to vote in local D.C. elections, it will not give access to voting in federal elections. Councilmember Charles Allen told WUSA9 that residents in the District understand the need to fight for a voice in politics.
"We are the folks who have taxation without representation, so we feel a certain way about representation," Allen said. "We are better when more voices are heard at the ballot box."
Some voting requirements will be the same for citizens and non-citizens, however. Those voting will still have to be 18 years old by the time of the general election, must live in D.C. for at least 30 days before the election and not claim voting residence in any U.S. state or U.S. territory.
Cheh expressed in the legislative meeting her concern about the 30-day residency requirement. She explained that her concern is about a "complete stranger to our community, to our nation" who can vote in D.C.'s election. She emphasized that her concern did not have to do with someone's citizenship status but more so to do with the time they have been a resident in the District.
"This seems entirely too flimsy," Cheh said in Tuesday's legislative meeting.
Other council members responded to Cheh's concerns about the bill. Allen emphasized his stance on the bill and stated that "strangers from all over our country are welcome here and strangers from all over the country can move here and vote here."
Allen further referenced other districts in the U.S. that have adopted a similar voting model that allows non-citizens to vote in local elections.
According to the city council, if the bill is approved, D.C. would join the ranks of 11 Maryland municipalities that also let non-citizens vote. That list includes Barnesville, Cheverly, Chevy Chase Section 3, Garrett Park, Glen Echo, Hyattsville, Martin’s Additions, Mount Rainier, Riverdale Park, Somerset, and Takoma Park.
Allen's office told VERIFY the bill won't be in effect by the November midterms, so it would not impact local races.
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