Vermont capital, one other town to allow non-citizens to vote, printing ballots in various languages

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Democrats in Vermont are not only allowing “non-citizens” to vote, they are going the extra mile to accommodate these new voters by printing ballots in various languages.

Two towns in the Green Mountain state are set to hold their first local elections where foreign nationals will be allowed to vote, Winooski and Montpelier, which is the state capital and, ironically, the home of James Madison, the Father of the Constitution.

Lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled state assembly signed off on charter changes approved by the two communities after overriding a veto from Gov. Phil Scott last year, according to WCAX3 News.

(Lawsuits filed by the Republican National Committee and the Vermont GOP say the charter changes violate section 42 of the Vermont Constitution, which says voters must be U.S. citizens.)

Careful to avoid terms like undocumented immigrants or illegal immigrants, the CBS affiliate said “noncitizen residents” of the two towns will be able to cast a ballot on local issues.

“Julienne Mugisha moved to Winooski from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2018,” WCAX3 News reported. “The Winooski resident is registered to vote and spoke to us through an interpreter. She says she’s excited that this door is now open for her and other people who are not noncitizens and that it feels incredible to be able to vote for leaders.”

As noted, Mugisha is one of just eight non-citizens to register to vote in Winooski the affiliate added. So far.

“The city has an ongoing outreach program, including ballots in several different languages, to attract more people to register,” the affiliate shared, adding that Mayor Kristine Lott, a registered independent, sees this as meeting all of the community’s needs.

“I think it pushes us to keep thinking about how we do engage our community and how we make sure everyone has the information they need to make informed decisions,” Lott said.

Irene Webster, a case manager at the Association of Africans Living in Vermont who’s running for the Winooski City Council, is calling for more education and outreach to minorities and new Americans — legal status notwithstanding.

“This is exciting unchartered territory,” Webster told WCAX3 News. “People who are empowered to vote and feel part of a group is important so they have a voice and they understand the things that they are voting for. It makes them feel that they have a voice to be part of that community.”

Only one noncitizen has registered to vote in Montpelier, which has not engaged in any outreach, according to City Clerk John Odum.

“I’m proud of my community for stepping up and so overwhelmingly approving it and welcoming all our neighbors into the process of deciding how our community should be run,” Odum told the affiliate.

Lawsuits filed by the Republican National Committee and the Vermont GOP say the charter changes are void and invalid because they violate section 42 of the Vermont Constitution, which says voters must be citizens.


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