Independent - New Age - Politics - Eroticism - Sensuality - Reproductive Freedom - Reflexology - Sensual Massage

Click here to return to the archive

Letter: No amendment required for non-citizens to vote

By Ted Hess-Mahan
Alderman-at-Large - West Newton
Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Brenda Loew incorrectly states that a constitutional amendment is required to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections. I don't know whose constitution she was reading, but the U.S. Constitution permits states and municipalities to decide who may vote. Indeed, in the case of Minor v. Wisdom (1874), the Supreme Court noted with approval that "citizenship has not in all cases been made a condition precedent to the enjoyment of the right of suffrage," citing numerous states that allowed resident non-citizens to vote. Ironically, of course, a constitutional amendment was required to guarantee Ms. Loew's right, as a woman, to vote.

Oscar Baron's letter is wrong on so many levels that I will address just two. First, local voting rights for immigrants may be a bold idea, but it is by no means a novel one. In fact, for the first 150 years of our nation's history, resident non-citizens in many states were allowed to vote in local, state and even national elections. Second, I will not even dignify Mr. Baron's disgraceful use of anti-immigrant stereotypes as a reason to deny non-citizens the rights to vote with a response. But it is worth noting that it was widespread ethnic and racial prejudice against the millions of immigrants arriving from non-English speaking countries around the turn of the last century - including, among others, Italians, Poles and Asians - that led to almost universal disenfranchisement of resident non-citizens by the end of the 1920s.

I respect and even welcome fair and honest disagreements about the issue of local voting rights for immigrants. Ignorance and prejudice, however, deserve no place in this debate.

Ted Hess-Mahan
Alderman-at-Large - West Newton

Back to Archive


Home | Brenda Loew | Current Issue | Photos & Art | Archive | Letters | Contact Us | Links


This page and all EIDOS content Copyright 1983 - 2004 To report problems with the site, please click here.