Massachusetts Bill Would Allow Noncitizens To Vote

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Should Massachusetts communities allow non-citizens to vote in local elections?

A bill on Beacon Hill would allow it.

State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) filed “An Act Extending Voting Rights In Municipal Elections To Noncitizen Voters of the Commonwealth” (S.415) earlier this year.

Under his bill, non-citizens in Massachusetts would receive voting rights in municipal elections. They could vote in town and city elections, including town meetings. However, they could not vote in state or federal elections. 

The bill would also allow non-citizens to run for municipal office.

The bill defines “noncitizen” as someone who is at least 18 years old and resides in the country legally but is not an American citizen.

“This bill grants the right to vote in municipal elections to noncitizens with legal status,” Eldridge wrote on his campaign web site. “It also allows them to serve in municipal office if duly elected. Noncitizens pay taxes and contribute to their communities. In the birthplace of the American Revolution, this bill reaffirms the principle that taxation without representation is unjust.”

Here is what the bill says about that, in part:


(c) For as long as the noncitizen voter remains a resident of the town in which the noncitizen voter has registered to vote, the noncitizen voter may exercise the noncitizen voting rights. A noncitizen voter shall only remain registered to vote in one municipality at a time.

(d) The state secretary shall issue a noncitizen voter registration form. The voter registration form shall include a declaration to be signed under pains and penalties of perjury by the noncitizen voter that the noncitizen is a resident of the municipality in which the noncitizen voter desires to vote.

(e) The state secretary and the election officer of a municipality shall disseminate the noncitizen voter registration form at the same places and in the same manner that the state secretary and election officer of a municipality disseminate the voter registration form for a United States citizen.

(f) The state secretary shall issue regulations to implement this section.


If the bill were to become law, Massachusetts would not have the first communities in New England to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections. The town of Montpelier, Vermont (that state’s capital) will begin allowing noncitizens to vote in its local elections this year, according to VTDigger.

The Massachusetts bill, which was filed January 11, has been referred to the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Election Laws. No further action has been taken on it.

Eldridge could not be reached for comment on Tuesday or Wednesday.


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