Noncitizen voting in local elections passes in Vermont city

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Ragi Patel, of Bellows Fall, Vt., casts her ballot as her 8-year-old son, Rushi, watches at the Bellows Falls polling site on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

WINOOSKI, Vt. (AP) — Voters in the small city of Winooski, which has one of the highest concentrations of new Americans and immigrants in Vermont, have decided to allow noncitizens the right to vote in local elections.

The amendment to the city charter now heads to the Legislature. If it passes and goes through another round of public input, the proposal goes to the governor for final approval, the Burlington Free Press reported.

“Our community spoke, and spoke well — 2 1/2 to 1,” said Deputy Mayor Hal Colston, who’s also a Democrat representative in the Vermont House. “Given that we’re the most diverse city in northern New England, the time has come for this kind of legislation so that we have so many more voices in our democratic process. We’re at a loss if we don’t experience the full diversity of our communities and how we need to do things.”

According to the city’s website, the proposal permits a Winooski resident who isn’t a U.S. citizen but is in the country under a “federally sanctioned legal category” such as a permanent resident visa to be eligible to vote in local elections, such as city and school elections, but not state and federal races, the newspaper reported.

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