One of the largest municipalities in Maryland is considering a measure to allow noncitizens to participate in local elections.
College Park, MD Councilwoman Christine Nagle introduced a measure that would make the university town the eleventh municipality in the state to expand the voting franchise back to noncitizens, The New York Times reports.
“For a large part of American history, suffrage for noncitizens in local elections was the rule, not the exception. From 1776 to 1926, 40 states allowed it in some form, at some point,” The Times explained. “When voting was restricted to white, male property owners, citizenship was not the central qualification.”
Councilwoman Nagle said, “about two years ago, someone mentioned that it didn’t seem right for students who are here for a short time to have the right to vote and residents who have lived here many years not have the ability to vote because they are not U.S. citizens.”
“The mayor and City Council are not deciding national policy,” Nagle said. “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.”
“Our neighbors have children in school, work, pay property taxes and income taxes, and make their home in College Park just like we do,” Nagle noted. “As residents of our community, I think, they also should be able to have a say in electing the city’s leadership.”