DC Voting Subverts Sovereignty

Bit by bit and with considerable assistance from their advocates, illegal aliens are inching their way toward nationwide voting privileges. In 2018, San Francisco began to register illegal immigrants and other noncitizens over age 18 whose children attend K-12 public schools. The noncitizens could then vote in school board elections. Although San Francisco’s bill was struck down in August 2022, similar benefits have been granted in Chicago, as well as some cities in Maryland and Massachusetts.

Vermont, another example, approved noncitizen voting legislation in 2021, and overrode Republican Governor Phil Scott’s veto. Advocates’ arguments, whether in Vermont, San Francisco, Chicago or Maryland, are consistent. The illegal immigrants have students in the school district, and as community members, they may pay taxes. They claim that they therefore have a right to participate in the decisions that affect their children and their lives. The reality that the Vermont constitution expressly states that “every person… who is a citizen of the United States…” shall have the right to vote is, to the state legislature, insignificant.

The highest profile effort to grant noncitizens, including aliens, voting rights is playing out in sanctuary city Washington, D.C. Last fall, the City Council passed a bill that would allow the district’s approximately 42,000 voting age noncitizens the privilege to cast a ballot. The residency requirement was set at a mere 30 days, meaning that potentially anyone can vote, including foreign diplomats, visiting professors, au pairs and summer interns. The bill passed by a 12-1 margin. True to form, Councilmember Charles Allen said that the noncitizens “deserve a right to have a say in their government.”

Unlike the cases in Maryland, Illinois and Vermont, the Constitution grants Congress exclusive control over the district’s city council-passed laws. In other words, D.C. voting laws are valid only to the extent that Congress tolerates them. Showing the common sense that Congress is too often missing, on February 9, the House voted down the district’s proposal 260-162, with 42 Democrats joining Republicans.

Concerns about noncitizen voting are twofold. Specific to D.C., Muriel Bowser won the 2022 Democratic mayoral nomination by 11,000 votes. The Migration Policy Institute found that D.C.’s 2019 illegal alien population was about 24,000, more than enough to have altered the election’s results. Looking ahead and evaluating D.C. dysfunction, citizen voters might not want to elect Bowser to a fourth term; the district has no term limits. Violent and property crimes are up under Bowser, and 98 percent of U.S. cities are safer than D.C. Homelessness is so pervasive in D.C. that National Park Service officers and Washington, D.C.’s police department evicted dozens of people from the District’s largest homeless encampment. Despite the D.C. chaos, noncitizen votes could sway the election toward Bowser, or another similarly minded candidate.

The second and broader concern is that, as Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy said, “These elections can set the laws that cover the White House, Congress and even government agencies. If we set this precedent, other cities will follow, and faith in our elections will plummet.”

History proves McCarthy’s theory that once noncitizen and illegal alien rewards begin, turning back is tough. Consider that driver’s licenses and in-state university tuition, once reserved for citizens, are now readily available to illegal immigrants. Bank accounts, which once required Social Security numbers, can be obtained with a foreign national’s unexpired passport or the easy-to-acquire Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Licenses, instate tuition for residents and banking relationships have been quietly incorporated into illegal immigrants’ welcome-to-America package.

The stakes in the House effort to preserve constitutional voting rights for citizens alone are high, and the consequences of letting them slip away are dire. The bill requires the Senate’s approval and President Biden’s signature. Since the administration’s goal is D.C. statehood, district-wide voting is a step in that direction.