NYT Guest Essay Opinion Piece Claims 'There Is No Good Reason You Should Have to Be a Citizen to Vote'

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Posted: Jul 31, 2021 8:00 PM
NYT Guest Essay Opinion Piece Claims 'There Is No Good Reason You Should Have to Be a Citizen to Vote'

Source: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

As part of the "Snap Out of It, America!" series, The New York Times has published quite the noteworthy pieces, including on Wednesday a claim from Atossa Araxia Abrahamian that "There Is No Good Reason You Should Have to Be a Citizen to Vote." 

Federal law prohibits non-citizens from voting in federal elections, which Abrahamian does address, by arguing Democrats need to change that, thus taking on a political tone:

Considering the Supreme Court’s recent decision undermining voting rights, and Republicans’ efforts to suppress, redistrict and manipulate their way to electoral security, it’s time for Democrats to radically expand the electorate. Proposing federal legislation to give millions of young people and essential workers a clear road to citizenship is a good start. But there’s another measure that lawmakers both in Washington and state capitals should put in place: lifting voting restrictions on legal residents who aren’t citizens — people with green cards, people here on work visas, and those who arrived in the country as children and are still waiting for permanent papers.

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Another misconception is that citizen voting rights have always been the prerogative of the federal government. In fact, states have largely decided who had a say in local, state and national elections. Arkansas was the last state to eliminate noncitizen voting in 1926, and it wasn’t until 1996 that Congress doubled down with the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which made voting in federal elections while foreign — already not permitted because of state-level rules — a criminal, and deportable, offense. (This means that congressional Democrats working on immigration and election reform can reverse the 1996 sanctions the same way they voted them in.)

In addition to recognizing federal law and representation that non-citizens have by being counted in the census,  she recognizes that "Voting is, in a sense, a reward for becoming an American," but then goes on too complain it's too hard.

"The strongest case for noncitizen voting today is representation," according to Abrahamian. "Would it be such a stretch to give noncitizen residents a say in who gets elected to their state legislature, Congress or the White House," she questions. 

Another reason is that "allowing noncitizens to vote in federal, state and municipal elections would help revitalize American democracy at a time when enthusiasm and trust are lacking."

"It’s also just good civics," Abrahamian argues in another reason. "Is there any reason to think resident foreigners should be less represented," she asks.

The piece also is written in such a way where it comes off as condescending, particularly early on, when it comes to the history of voting rights in this country. 

It’s easy to assume that restricting the franchise to citizens is an age-old, nonnegotiable fact. But it’s actually a relatively recent convention and a political choice. Early in the United States’ history, voting was a function not of national citizenship but of gender, race and class. As a result, white male landowners of all nationalities were encouraged to play an active role in shaping American democracy, while women and poor, Indigenous and enslaved people could not. That wholesale discrimination is unquestionably worse than excluding resident foreigners from the polls, but the point is that history shows how readily voting laws can be altered — and that restrictive ones tend not to age well.

Our first few presidents were indeed elected by a limited amount of citizens. But then our country went through such historic improvements as the 15th and 19th amendments. Congress also passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

Stephen Miller had strong words about the piece during a "Fox News Primetime" appearance on Friday. 

"The New York Times opinion piece is extraordinarily revealing for the mindset of the Left— which is they want to erode and ultimately erase the very idea of American citizenship. Voting is not just a right. It’s also a responsibility. You have to learn our country’s history, its culture, its language, its values to be able to make an informed decision about voting. That’s why this country has a naturalization process— a lawful process to go through to learn who we are and what we’re about," he said during the segment. 

Larry Kudlow also had a similarly opinionated take with FOX Business Network when he said for Abrahamian to "stop whining and stop playing the victim." He also said that "I’m not into global citizenship and I’m so tired of all this Left-Wing whining. Like I said, if you don't like it here, please feel free to leave. It's a free country but then again, that's why you came here in the first place. So, stop whining about it."