A suburb near Baltimore is debating a proposal that would allow residents the right to vote in local elections, regardless of citizenship status.
The city council in College Park, Maryland, which has nearly 30,000 residents, is set to consider the measure Tuesday, which would allow legal and illegal immigrants to vote for city mayor, city council, and issues that appear on the local ballots, according to the Baltimore Sun. It would not allow them to vote for president, senator, congressman or governor.
Advocates for the charter amendment insist that local elections focus on issues that matter to all residents, including those who are not legal citizens, such as trash collection, snow removal, and other municipal services.
College Park City Councilwoman Christine Nagle, who sponsored the proposal, believes undocumented residents and green-card holders should be afforded the right because they are part of the community.
“These are folks who have a significant stake in our community and who rely on the facilities in our city,” Nagle told The Sun. "To me, it just made sense.”
But not everyone agrees. Although College Park City Councilwoman Mary Cook said she would ultimately listen to what her constituents wanted before making a final decision, she said she does not personally support the idea.
"On a personal level, I do not agree that non-citizens should be voting," she said.
If approved, College Park would become the 11th municipality in Maryland to allow non-citizens the right to vote in local elections. Like the others, the proposal would be designed so as to not differentiate between legal green-card holders and illegal immigrants with no documentation.
"We very intentionally made it so that we did not have questions about citizenship status,” Patrick Paschall, an advocate for the College Park proposal who also served on the council in Hyattsville, Maryland, a municipality that has already passed the same kind of measure, said. “It undermines the premise of non-citizen voting to try to draw a distinction.”
Although the council is set to debate the measure Tuesday, Nagle told The Sun the vote could be delayed until later this summer.