Washington, D.C., Law Grants Noncitizens Voting Rights
Last October, the Washington, D.C., City Council approved a measure that grants noncitizens the right to vote in local elections. The measure was too radical even for Mayor Muriel Bowser, who vetoed the bill when it came to her desk. But the mayor was outnumbered by the sheer number of political radicals on the D.C. Council, who overrode her veto.
Under the 1973 Home Rule Act, Congress has the authority to block local D.C. laws from going into effect with the passage of a resolution of disapproval by both chambers and sign-off by the president. On February 9, the Republican controlled House of Representatives did just that. The lower chamber approved a resolution, introduced by House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), opposing the District’s noncitizen voting law by a vote of 260-162. Forty-two Democrats joined a unanimous Republican caucus in support of the resolution, with 164 Democrats opposing it.
Under the law passed by the D.C. City Council, any person over the age of 18 who has lived in the city for at least 30 days would be eligible to vote, regardless of citizenship status. The franchise would be extended not only to legal permanent residents, but also to illegal aliens and even citizens of other countries who serve in the 185 foreign embassies and missions in our nation’s capital. Thus, even people working for foreign governments that are hostile to the United States, like China or Russia, would be able to vote in Washington, D.C.
A companion resolution was been introduced in the Democratic controlled Senate by Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). Predictably, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) did not bring the resolution to the floor of the chamber within the prescribed 30-day period, thereby preventing many vulnerable Democrats who face re-election in 2024 from having to go on-record. As a result, the City Council law went into effect in March, making all foreign nationals eligible to vote in local elections. Adding insult to injury, city officials estimate that it will cost about $1.6 million to register newly enfranchised foreign citizens to vote.
Prior to the vote in the House, the White House put out a statement opposing the resolution, but did not explicitly threaten a presidential veto (as the president faces reelection himself).
FAIR has long recognized the threats posed by noncitizen voting initiatives to national sovereignty, the concept of self-determination and the value of American citizenship, and has opposed these efforts when they have been raised around the country – in most cases successfully. FAIR continues to organize public opposition to these measures whenever they arise. And there are certain to be more of them, as mass immigration advocates, emboldened by the current administration, continue their efforts to erase any distinction between citizens and noncitizens.