Democrats on the Boston City Council are looking to extend local voting rights to foreign nationals in the United States on visas, green cards, and other forms of legal status.
Councilwoman Kendra Lara (D) introduced the measure, which would allow foreign nationals on green cards, visas, and other forms of legal status to vote in Boston municipal elections. The measure is likely to gain widespread support from the council, which is made up of 12 Democrats.
Lara said in a statement:
Though immigrants, particularly those with legal status, pay taxes and contribute to Boston’s economy, they are not able to participate in the electoral process, in what I believe is a violation of one of our foundational American principles. By moving this home rule petition forward, Boston can begin the process of making good on our promise to build a city that is for everyone. [Emphasis added]
Councilman Ricardo Arroyo (D) has already praised giving foreign nationals the right to vote as an initiative that would boost voter turnout in Boston.
“It’s not a new idea,” Arroyo told the Boston Herald. “It’s important, I think, to give a voice to folks locally, who are providing and are subject to all manner of municipal decisions.”
Nearly three in ten Boston residents are foreign-born, though it is unclear how many would be eligible to vote under Lara’s plan.
Democrats across the United States have sought to give foreign nationals the right to vote, at least in local elections. Most prominently, when New York City Democrats passed a measure to do so, the state’s Supreme Court struck down the plan because it violated the New York Constitution.