Another Maryland City Considers Allowing Non-Citizens to Vote

Several Maryland cities currently allow non-citizens to vote in local elections, and College Park is considering such a proposal:

The Prince George’s County city, home of the flagship University of Maryland campus and some 30,000 residents, is considering a measure to let noncitizens cast ballots for mayor and City Council — making it the latest target in a movement that has had more success in Maryland than anywhere else in the United States. . . . 

Supporters of the College Park measure say local elections center on trash collection, snow removal and other municipal services that affect people regardless of their citizenship status. The proposal, like those already approved in other small Maryland cities and towns, would not allow undocumented immigrants to vote for president, senator, congressman or governor. . . . 

Opponents say immigrants — even those in the country legally, such as green-card holders — should not be able to have a say in the direction of the community until they complete the process of becoming a citizen. . . . Jeff Werner, who advocates tighter restrictions on immigration with the group Help Save Maryland, said people who are in the country legally should have a voice in their communities, but if they are not citizens, their participation should not extend as far as voting.

Federal law controls who is eligible to vote in federal elections (U.S. citizens), but by state law in Maryland (and many other states), localities can determine eligibility requirements for local elections.  So while allowing non-citizens to vote in Maryland is completely legal (though perhaps surprising for many citizens), it is a bad policy decision.  Allowing non-citizens on the local voting rolls increases the likelihood that they will mistakenly be allowed to vote in state and federal elections.  States that allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote find with alarming frequency that if those underage citizens show up at the polls, they are allowed to vote.  The College Park proposal does not distinguish between legal residents and illegal immigrants, meaning that if someone has broken the law in his or her manner of entering the country, their vote would carry equal weight in local elections with a taxpaying citizen (and remember, local races are often won by very small margins).  Non-citizens are often transient and not as invested in the community as citizens.

It is unfortunate to see cities in Maryland bowing to liberal pressure to embrace this so-called "diversity" and "inclusiveness" at the expense of their citizens and at great risk to the integrity of their elections and to see increasing calls for similar laws in California and other liberal enclaves.