D.C. legislators on Wednesday heard largely favorable testimony for a bill that would allow non-citizen legal residents to vote in local elections, but skeptics — including the head of the city’s election board — expressed concern over the logistics of expanding the franchise to Green Card-holders. Under the measure introduced by Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) earlier this year, D.C. would join Takoma Park, Maryland and a small number of other jurisdictions that allow legal permanent residents to vote in local elections. Grosso’s bill would only require that those residents live in the city for 30 days before being able to cast ballots.
“‘All politics is local’ is a common phrase in the U.S. political system,” he said at a Council hearing on the bill. “What most District residents care about are the local, tangible aspects of city life that affect them from day to day. But unfortunately, not all of our residents have a say in choosing the officials who make the policy decisions that directly affect them. In my opinion, this is unjust.”
According to 2012 Census count, there are 54,000 foreign-born and non-citizen residents in the city, the majority of which are of voting age. Grosso said that since they pay taxes and send their children to local schools, they should be offered a formal voice in the debates that can shape their lives in the city.
Gabriela Mossi, the president of D.C. Latino Caucus, said that allowing legal permanent residents to vote would bring more voices and perspectives to the city’s political process.