Switzerland’s main business hub is very well connected globally and attracts many expatriates. But Zurich does not grant its foreign residents any say in political matters – an apparent contradiction in a country proud of its direct democracy. The authorities in Switzerland’s most populous city are now considering ways to enhance the participation of this important group. The city of Zurich has about 425,000 residents – 32% of whom do not hold a Swiss passport. Many are expats working for international or Swiss companies. They are highly skilled, hold good jobs and earn high salaries.
Czech Republic: Foreigners can vote in Czech local elections, but show little interest | Radio Prague
The Czech Republic’s communal elections, which will take place this Friday and Saturday, differ from their presidential and parliamentary equivalents in that citizens of other EU member states are also allowed to vote. This includes those living in the country on a temporary basis. However, interest in political engagement seems low among foreigners living in the country, with only a few thousand deciding to register. While EU citizens with permanent residence have been able to vote in communal elections since the country entered the EU in 2004, Czech law was unclear about whether those with temporary residency status can do so as well. Following a court ruling in 2014 the Ministry of Interior issued a recommendation to local district councils that they accept applications from temporary EU residents.
Editorials: Let noncitizens vote. What’s the worst that could happen? | GustavoArellano/Los Angeles Times
As if President Trump’s America needed more reason to hate California, here comes news that San Francisco began to register noncitizens last week to vote for local school board races this November. Actually, it’s old news: Voters OK’d the plan in 2016 with the passage of Measure N. But its implementation has triggered Fox News and their peers, and has Republican politicians whispering that this is the latest Democratic plot to use undocumented Mexicans to destroy America — never mind that most of the people now eligible to vote in San Francisco are actually Chinese. Conservatives need to calm down. Noncitizen voting already is happening in some Maryland towns, and democracy there is still alive. Giving them access to the ballot box is a great gesture — it lets more people hold government accountable, adds a shot of vitality to our democracy, blah blah blah.
Massachusetts: A vote for noncitizens? Boston City Council president pushes access to rights | Boston Herald
The Boston City Council will consider ways it can let noncitizens vote in city elections tomorrow in a hearing on a controversial measure being pushed by Council President Andrea Campbell. “All members of a community should have the right to participate and be included in the governance of that community,” Campbell’s order states, noting that Boston has a foreign-born population of more than 190,000, or 28 percent. Her order also states that non-U.S. citizens paid $116 million in state and local taxes and generated over $3.4 billion in spending, according to a 2015 city report.
Local authorities in Brussels have begun a major push to urge more non-Belgian residents to vote in upcoming municipal elections in October. More than a third of Brussels’ inhabitants are foreigners with voting rights in their local elections. But despite many of them working within the EU institutions at the heart of the Continent’s democracy, Belgium has close to the lowest voter participation rate among EU citizens in Europe. While voting is compulsory for Belgian nationals and over 90 percent go to the polls in local commune elections, the equivalent figure for non-Belgians is under 14 percent overall, and much lower in some communes.
Barbados: Barbados Electoral Office Sticks to Guns on Not Allowing Commonwealth Citizens to Vote | Caribbean360
The Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC) is holding firm to its position that Commonwealth citizens in Barbados are not eligible to vote in the May 24 general election unless they have permanent resident or immigrant status. And one of the lawyers representing four non-nationals embroiled in a legal battle with the EBC has warned the Commission that there will be hell to pay if it persists in “blatantly ignoring” the Court of Appeal ruling on the eligibility of qualified Commonwealth citizens to vote. Gregory Nicholls said yesterday that that the electoral management body was flirting with danger and would “suffer the consequences of their actions”.
It turns out that the city of College Park did not have enough votes after all to grant voting rights to noncitizens, officials said Saturday. The College Park City Council voted 4-3 with one member abstaining Tuesday night on an amendment to the city’s charter that would allow noncitizens to vote in municipal elections. But charter amendments need six votes of the eight-member council, the city announced Saturday. That rule was changed in June, and the mayor and council members said they neglected to note that they needed six votes.
The city council and mayor of College Park are expected to decide Tuesday whether to allow non-citizens to vote in municipal elections, following a heated discussion among residents over the summer about the issue. The majority of residents who have submitted comments in the Washington suburb, home to the University of Maryland’s flagship campus, support the amendment to allow green-card holders, undocumented immigrants and student-visa holders to vote in local elections, Mayor Patrick Wojahn said. The council postponed the initial vote, which was scheduled for a meeting on Aug. 8, so it could consider whether to hold a referendum to let voters decide. “My goal is to keep the conversation tomorrow civil and productive,” Wojahn said. “I’m hoping that we won’t have the circus around it that we had last time.”
It was pouring rain in Oslo and many other Norwegian cities on Election Day Monday. That was at least some consolation, perhaps, for the thousands of permanent Norwegian residents over the age of 18 who couldn’t brave the bad weather and troop to the polls anyway, because they’re not eligible to vote. The newspaper Aftenposten reported recently that there’s now nearly a half-million people in Norway, many of them long-time residents, who are not allowed to vote in the national parliamentary elections that roll around every four years. That’s largely because of Norway’s law against dual citizenship. Even though tens of thousands qualify for citizenship and could readily obtain a Norwegian passport, the law demands that they’d have to give up the citizenship of their birth, and that’s not easy for anyone who maintains ties with their homeland and views their homeland as an important part of their identity.
Some 7.8 million adult foreign residents in Germany will see themselves sidelined when federal election polls open on September 24, according to 2016 microcensus data sifted for DW by Germany’s Federal Statistical Office (Destatis). On average, these resident foreigners have lived in Germany for 15 years while paying tax and obligatory levies into health and pension funds, often acquiring intimate knowledge of German politics and culture. But they cannot vote, nor stand as political party candidates – unlike 61.5 million Germans, including 3 million first-timers, who can vote in the federal election.
Editorials: Non-citizens are gaining the right to vote. Good. | Joshua A. Douglas/The Washington Post
As President Trump continues to peddle his debunked theory that millions of illegal ballots in the 2016 presidential election cost him the popular vote, his commission on voter fraud is wasting federal resources to figure out just how many noncitizens voted in our federal and state elections. But amid all the falsehoods, there has actually been some positive news for some legal noncitizens: They are gaining the right to vote in some places. In November, San Francisco voters approved Proposition N, which grants the right to vote in school board elections to noncitizen parents and guardians living in the city. The noncitizen voters must be at least 18 years old and cannot be in prison or on parole for a felony conviction. The law goes into effect for the November 2018 school board election.
The city of College Park, the Washington suburb that is home to the University of Maryland’s flagship campus, postponed a vote Tuesday on whether to extend municipal voting rights to noncitizens while it weighs whether to hold a referendum and let voters decide. The City Council had been expected to vote on whether noncitizens would be allowed to participate in the city’s November election but opted to wait until its Sept. 12 meeting to decide. The measure comes as leaders in some of Prince George’s County’s more liberal-leaning jurisdictions and in neighboring Montgomery County struggle to create policies that protect undocumented immigrants without getting in the crosshairs of the Trump administration.
As a federal commission searches for evidence of voter fraud and many states try to impose new voting restrictions, a city in Maryland may move in the opposite direction: allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections. In College Park, home to the University of Maryland’s flagship campus, the City Council is debating a measure introduced by Councilwoman Christine Nagle that would give noncitizens — a broad category that includes green card holders, students with visas and undocumented immigrants — the right to cast ballots for the city’s mayor, council members and other local officials. Startling though it may seem, the proposal has extensive precedent both in the United States and worldwide: Forty states used to allow noncitizen voting, and dozens of countries currently do.
Maryland: Amid immigration battles, College Park considers giving noncitizens voting rights | Baltimore Sun
Officials in College Park are weighing a plan that would make their city the largest in Maryland to give undocumented immigrants a right to vote in local elections, a long-standing practice elsewhere in the state that has drawn new scrutiny amid the simmering national debate over immigration. 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. College Park officials are debating the charter amendment after a divisive national election in which immigration played a prominent part. Many left-leaning cities, including Baltimore, are now at odds with President Donald J. Trump’s initial efforts to fulfill a campaign promise to crack down on immigration violations.
On Saturday the Bierger-Centre in Luxembourg City will open its doors especially for foreigners to register to vote in October’s local elections. The cut-off date to be able to register is July 13. In a bid to encourage as many of the near 47 per cent of foreigners living in Luxembourg to register to go to the polls, the Bierger-Centre on Place Guillaume is allowing people who may not be able to go to register during the week to complete the three-step process on a Saturday. People of any nationality worldwide and who will be at least 18 years old on the day of the election, October 8, can register to vote if they have lived in Luxembourg for at least five years on the date of registration. The five years of residency do not have to run concurrently and can be an accumulation of a total of five years.
President Trump has often criticized San Francisco’s sanctuary policy for harboring people in the country unlawfully. Now the city is bracing for additional criticism from the federal government as it prepares to become the first city in the state and one of the first in the country to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections. Proposition N passed in November. It will allow noncitizens, including people in the country illegally, who have children in the city’s school district to vote in local school board elections. Supporters want to give immigrant parents more of a voice in how the city’s public schools are run.
Latvia: Estonian and Latvian non-citizen petition for voting rights sent to European Parliament | Baltic Times
Latvian leftist MEPs Andrejs Mamikins (Harmony) and Tatjana Zdanoka (Russian Union of Latvia) have submitted petitions in support of Latvian and Estonian non-citizens to the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions. Mamikins told LETA that they had collected over 20,000 signatures under the petition, and there were residents of Belgium, the United Kingdom, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, the United States, Canada, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh among the signatories of the petition. The petition seeks the rights for Estonia’s non-citizens to become members of political parties and to vote in the European Parliament election and, in the case of Latvia’s non-citizens, the right to vote in the European Parliament election.