Councilmember David Grosso introduced legislation today that would allow foreign citizens who have permanent resident status to vote in local elections.
The bill would require green card holders to live in the District for at least 30 days prior to the election.
“Pot holes, community centers, playgrounds, minimum wage, taxes, supercans, snow removal, alley closings, alcohol license moratoriums, red light cameras… these are all important issues that voters in the District of Columbia entrust their leaders with,” Grosso said in his introduction on the dais today. “And unfortunately, not all of our residents have say in choosing the individuals who make these decisions. In my opinion, that is unjust.”
There are about 53,975 foreign-born District residents who are not naturalized citizens, according to 2012 Census data, and over 90 percent of these residents are 18 years of age or older. A Grosso spokeswoman says she isn’t sure how many of these residents would be qualified to vote; only those who had permanent resident status would be included.
Grosso said that seven other jurisdictions, six of which are in Maryland, already have similar laws on the books.
Council members Tommy Wells, Jim Graham, and Muriel Bowser are co-sponsoring the “Local Resident Voting Rights Act of 2013.”
The legislation still needs to be approved by a committee before it goes to the Council, and ultimately, the mayor for final approval.
Read the current text of the bill below:
Photo by Darrow Montgomery