In some U.S. cities and many European countries LPR’s (legal permanent residents) are able to vote in municipal elections. According to the Department of Homeland Security there were 32,000 LPR’s living in the Houston area in 2013.
Most Americans are unaware that non-citizen voting was widespread in the United States for the first 150 years of its history. From 1776 until 1926, 22 states and federal territories allowed non-citizens to vote in local, state, and even federal elections but gradually repealed this right. The U.S. Constitution gives states and municipalities the right to decide who is eligible to vote.
Below is a list of U.S. cities and countries that allow permanent resident’s to vote in municipal elections.
U.S. cities or states have explored, proposed, or passed non citizen voting
New York City (1968-2003): School Board Elections
Takoma Park, Maryland: City Charter Amendment
The following nations permit non-citizens to cast ballots.
Belgium (2004): Local elections
Austria (2002): Local elections in Vienna
European Union (1992): Reciprocal local and European Parliament elections for all member nations
Barbados (1990): Citizens of British Commonwealth can vote in national elections
Hungary (1990): Local elections for permanent residents
Chile (1989): Local and national elections
Iceland (1986): Nordic Union citizens can vote in local elections
Spain (1985): Local elections
Venezuela (1983): 10 year residents can vote in local and state elections
Finland (1981): Nordic Union citizens can vote in local elections (expanded in 1991 to all 40year residents)
Netherlands (1979): Local elections in Rotterdam (expanded nationwide in 1985)
Norway (1978): Local elections for Nordic Union (expanded in 1995 for 3 year residents)
Denmark (1977): Local elections for Nordic Union (expanded in 1981 for all foreign residents)
Portugal (1976): National and some local elections (expanded 1997 to all 3 year residents)
Sweden (1975): Local and regional elections, plus some national referendums
New Zealand (1975): Local and national elections
Ireland (1963): Local elections (expanded 1985 to remove 6 month residency requirement and to allow British citizens a national vote)
Uruguay (1952): National elections for 15-year residents
Israel (1950): Local elections for Jewish residents only
United Kingdom (1948): National elections for Commonwealth and Irish citizens
Switzerland (1849): 5 year residents in Neuchatel canton (expanded in 1979 to include 10-year residents in Jura canton)
Since legal permanent residents pay taxes and serve in the U.S. military:
- Amend the Texas constitution to let legal permanent residents vote in city and county elections.
- Amend the Texas constitution to let legal permanent residents vote in state elections.
Code – Electoral Code
Chapter – 11 Qualifications for and Requirements for Voting
Section – 11.002 Qualified Voter
Comparing Electoral Rights in the European Union
Allowing Non-Citizens to Vote in the United States? Why Not
Non citizen Voting in New York City Municipal Elections as a Case Study in Immigrant Integration and Local Governance
Washington Post – Takoma Park stands by non-U.S. citizen voting law
Los Angeles Times – Editorial Should non-citizens in the U.S. vote?
Los Angeles – Give non citizens the right to vote? It’s only fair
Immigrant Voting Rights Receive More Attention
Burlington to be polled on non-citizen voting
Fox Hosts Outraged At Non-Citizen Voting In D.C., Where U.S. Citizens Lack Voting Rights
Bloomberg – Non citizen Voting Makes Sense. Why Don’t Liberals Agree?
Noncitizen Voting Rights: A Survey of an Emerging Democratic Norm
Local Voting Rights for Non Nationals in Europe: What We Know and What We Need to Learn
Expansive Citizenship: Voting beyond Territory and Membership
European Constitutional Law Review – Voting rights for non-citizens
Argentina wants foreigners, 16-year-olds to vote
The Guardian – EU migrants living in Ireland to be allowed to vote
Quartz – You soon may not need citizenship to vote in the US; just become a New Yorker
Luxembourg rules out full voting rights for foreigners
Think Progress – Why You Have Nothing To Fear From Non-Citizen Voting
Electoral Rights for Third Country Nationals in Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden
Extending Voting Rights to Foreigners: Reinforcing Equality or Reinventing Citizenship?
Foreign Voters in the Netherlands. Towards an Enlargement of the Right to Vote?
Who can vote in NZ elections? Citizens and Permanent Residents
Demos – Hey, de Blasio: How About Pushing Non-Citizen Voting Rights?
Houston Chronicle – Immigrants’ voting rights becoming a major issue
San Francisco Gate – Proposal to let non citizens vote for SF school board resurrected
Bangor Daily News – Debate set on Portland non citizen voting proposal
Torontoist – Why Permanent Residents Should Be Allowed to Vote in Toronto
Toronto Star – Non-citizen voting in local elections is long overdue: Cole
Winnipeg Free Press – Permanent residents should have the vote
CBC – North Bay calls for municipal voting rights for permanent residents
CBC – 5 cities are asking for a legal change to give permanent residents the right to vote in municipal elections
City Lab – The Long, Strange History of Non-Citizen Voting
Boston City Council Considers Giving Non-Citizens Voting Rights