Letter: Enfranchise resident aliens for local elections
To the Editor:
Ridgefield disenfranchises nearly 1,000 residents while allowing non-resident property owners to vote in the town. This 4% of Ridgefield who are not citizens, and therefore cannot vote in town elections, pay the same taxes as every town member. They are left unrepresented in the political process: a process that determines who runs their children’s schools and their town’s budget. They are willing political participants whose voices are muted. As residents and taxpayers of Ridgefield, they should be able to vote in town elections and especially budget referenda.
Should we ask non-citizen residents to never raise issues at town hall meetings? At Board of Education meetings? If no, then why exclude them as local voters? New England Town Meetings celebrate inclusive democracy, so why deem 4% of Ridgefield unqualified to participate?
This 4% includes class moms and dads, PTA members, and participants in every aspect of the school system. They voice concerns at town meetings, are active members of the community and are invested in the prosperity of Ridgefield. They cannot vote, yet they contribute to and benefit from every town service offered.
Let Ridgefield join other municipalities around the country enfranchising resident aliens. I urge the town to enfranchise resident aliens to have at least equivalent voting privileges as non-resident property owners. I ask our representatives in the state legislatures to empower municipalities to enfranchise resident aliens for local elections.
This proposition is not unprecedented. Nine municipalities in Maryland allow non-citizen voting in local elections. San Francisco and Chicago enfranchise non-citizen parents for school elections. As we approach budget season, advocate for the enfranchisement of another 4% of Ridgefield. If we allow nonresidents of Ridgefield to vote because they pay significant property taxes, then why not enfranchise non-citizen, taxpaying residents? Do their voices matter any less?