The Vermont towns of Winooski and Montpelier are set to hold local elections where, for the first time, noncitizen residents will be able to vote.
City officials in Montpelier said one foreign national has registered to vote, while eight foreign nationals registered to vote in Winooski.
Winooski will provide non-English speaking foreign nationals with ballots in their native languages.
The town is also conducting community outreach to register as many foreign nationals to vote as possible.
— Karen🇺🇲 (@Karen6807) February 22, 2022
Foreign takeover without a shot being fired—
— RoseMary (@heavenbent) February 22, 2022
WCAX 3 explains:
Julienne Mugisha moved to Winooski from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2018. 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 and have support from the community.
Mugisha is one of just eight people who aren’t yet citizens but have registered to vote in Winooski so far. The city has an ongoing outreach program, including ballots in several different languages, to attract more people to register.
Mayor Kristine Lott says this is a step towards 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,” she said.
In June 2021, Democrats in the Vermont state legislature approved changes to the charters governing Montpelier and Winooski so that foreign nationals could vote in local elections.
Republican Gov. Phil Scott only vetoed the plan because it did not provide all foreign nationals across Vermont the right to vote. Legislators ultimately overrode his veto.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) is currently suing Montpelier and Winooski for allowing foreign nationals to vote, arguing that the policy violates Vermont’s constitution, which reserves voting rights for American citizens.