Burlington Rejects Voting, City Service By Non-Citizens | Off Message

Burlington Rejects Voting, City Service By Non-Citizens

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SUE NORTON
  • Sue Norton
Burlington voters today rejected a ballot measure to give non-citizens the right to vote in local elections.

Pushed by several Progressive city councilors, the idea slowly gained steam last year in city hall. The mayor and most other city councilors gradually went from skeptical to supportive.

But they failed to win over Burlington voters: The measure failed 58 percent to 42 percent.

Burlington voters also rejected by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent a change that would have allowed non-citizens to serve as department heads and on city boards. 

Leading up to Town Meeting Day, outspoken critics made their opposition known during spirited Front Porch Forum debates and at neighborhood planning assembly meetings. Some worried that the measure would dilute the value of citizenship.

Even if the voting initiative had passed, it was unlikely non-citizens would have made it to the polls anytime soon. The Vermont legislature would have needed to sign off on the proposal, and supporters acknowledged that it could have been a tough sell in the state capitol. 

The initiative that would have allowed non-citizens to serve as department heads or city officials would not have required legislative approval.

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