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April 08, 2004

Immigrant Voting Nothing New

New York City is discussing giving the vote to legal immigrants, and no doubt conservatives will portray this as some kind of modern leftist fad.

But immigrant voting is as American as apple pie. In fact, with our early slogan of "no taxation without representation," denying the vote to immigrants was once considered positively unAmerican.

As this history notes:

Early in our country's history, emerging republicanism and liberalism embodied in slogans such as "no taxation with out representation" made noncitizen voting a logical democratic practice tied to notions of "inhabitants" and difficult to challenge...Many new states and territories used alien suffrage as an incentive to attract settlers and as a pathway to citizenship (though not as a substitute). The general practice was to require residency from six months to one year before voting rights were granted. At least thirteen new states adopted alien suffrage. Noncitizen voting was practiced to its greatest extent by about 1875. By the close of the nineteenth century, nearly one-half of all the states and territories had some experience with voting by aliens, most of them lasting for more than half a century.
Immigrants have the right to a voice in the government to which they pay taxes and serve in the military.

Posted by Nathan at April 8, 2004 08:51 AM