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Tipsheet

Washington Post Editorial Board Comes Out Against D.C. Measure Allowing Noncitizens to Vote

AP Photo/Charles Krupa

On Monday, The Washington Post editorial board came out against legislation in Washington, D.C. that would allow noncitizens to vote. 

In the piece, “D.C. is considering legislation to let noncitizens vote. That’s a bad idea,” the editorial board wrote that this kind of legislation in the nation’s capital could allow those working at embassies of foreign governments and foreign exchange students staying in D.C. temporarily to cast a ballot. 

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Voting is a foundational right of citizenship. That’s why we oppose a bill, poised to pass the D.C. Council this week, that would allow an estimated 50,000 noncitizen residents to cast ballots in local elections.

This newspaper has opposed efforts over the past decade to rewrite D.C.’s election code so green-card holders could vote. What’s now before the council is more radical. The proposal has been expanded to give voting rights in local elections to all noncitizen adults, regardless of whether they are in the country legally, so long as they’ve resided in the District for 30 days.

Anyone who has ever been to a naturalization ceremony can attest to how special it feels to welcome new members into the American family. New citizens must swear an oath renouncing all allegiances to foreign powers and promising to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies. There’s nothing in this measure to prevent employees at embassies of governments that are openly hostile to the United States from casting ballots. Or foreign students who are studying abroad in Washington for a semester.

The board pointed to a law signed by former President Bill Clinton in 1996 that bans noncitizens from voting in federal elections. The D.C. ballot includes both local and federal contests. Therefore, the proposed law would require the Board of Elections to print separate ballots so that noncitizens do not vote in federal races, which would cost at least $3 million. 

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In addition, the editorial board pointed out that ballot initiatives to prohibit noncitizens from voting have passed in states such as Florida, Colorado and Alabama, noting that it’s “easy to see House Republicans advancing such a bill next year.” The proposed law, they wrote, is likely an effort to push D.C. even farther left.

Some progressives hope that reshaping the electorate will allow them to reshape local politics, prodding the city further to the left on issues such as rent control and spending on social programs.

The bill, which was introduced by several D.C. councilmembers, does not take into account immigration status, which Leah covered

“Our immigrant neighbors of all statuses participate, contribute and care about our community in our city,” D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen said of the bill this month. “They, like all DC residents, deserve a right to have a say in their government. 

In recent months, Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott has been sending illegal immigrants on buses to D.C. So far, he has sent more than 7,000. Bowser declared a public emergency over the migrants, describing it as a “humanitarian crisis.” Her repeated requests for help from the National Guard were denied. 

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In a recent interview, Bowser said that D.C. is “not Texas” and cannot accommodate the migrants. 


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