Winooski Residents To Consider Voting Rights For Non-Citizens

Aug 24, 2018

Residents in Winooski will be voting on more than just political candidates in November.

The Winooski City Council voted Monday to put a proposed charter change on the ballot that would give non-U.S. citizens the right to vote in municipal elections.

“The concept is, essentially, if you’re a resident of the city, you should have a say in local decision-making,” said Councilor Eric Covey, one of the backers of the proposal.

Covey said city staff are still working on draft language for the proposed charter change. He also said similar non-citizen voting provisions already exist in about a dozen cities across the U.S.

“Many of our non-citizen residents pay taxes, can own a home, send their kids to our schools," Covey said, "but have no say in how their municipal tax dollars are being spent on their kids’ education or on local issues that impact their quality of life.”

Covey said he isn’t sure how many non-citizens live in Winooski, but said it’s one of the most demographically diverse municipalities in Vermont.

Covey said the City Council plans to hold several public hearings on the proposal in advance of the vote.

If Winooski voters approve the charter change in November, the Vermont Legislature would still need to approve the change before it could go into effect.