A city in Montgomery County, Maryland, is weighing whether it should allowing non-U.S. citizens to vote in municipal elections, and residents last week expressed their opinions on the move.
“Let’s eliminate the barriers for noncitizens to take part fully in our democracy,” said Sandy Shan, a naturalized citizen who came to the U.S. a decade ago and now lives in Rockville.
“Noncitizens live here, work here, pay taxes here, raised families here, start businesses here and send their kids to school here,” she continued.
Among other changes, such as ranked choice voting and lowering the voting age to 16 for local election, the Rockville City Council is contemplating allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections during their revisions to the city’s public charter.
Around 16% of Rockville residents are not U.S. citizens. Rafael Acario is one of them and he also testified during public comment.
“I have come this evening to say that as a city of Rockville resident who is a noncitizen and cannot participate in local elections, I represent a population that wants a say in who we empower to make crucial decisions that impact our daily lives while being and families,” he said through an interpreter.
Others who spoke to Rockville’s council and mayor are not as keen on the idea.
“If I go to Gaithersburg, I’m not a citizen of that city,” Tim McGee said. “I can’t vote in that city. Because I’m not a citizen. Like I said, my Irish friends had become a citizen first before they voted.”
The Rockville City Council will again discuss the changes to the charter later this month, but no vote has been scheduled. The decision may be pushed to a referendum for voters.