GOP sues 2 Vermont cities for non-citizen voting | Vermont News


By WILSON RING, Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vermont (AP) – The Republican National Committee is suing two cities in Vermont for allowing non-citizens to vote on local issues in their communities.

Similar, but separate, lawsuits against the cities of Montpellier and Winooski ask judges to declare the vote of non-citizens unconstitutional.

“The Vermont Constitution requires US citizenship as a condition of voting,” said the two lawsuits, written by Republican lawyer Brady Toensing.

The lawsuits, filed Tuesday in state courts in Burlington and Montpellier, were brought by the national GOP, its Vermont counterpart and a number of people.

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Last November, voters in Winooski – considered one of the most diverse towns in northern New England – allowed non-citizens to vote in local elections if they were legally in the United States. In 2019, the city of Montpellier adopted a similar measure.

Earlier this year, the Vermont legislature approved changes to the charters of both communities allowing non-citizen voting. The original bills were vetoed by Republican Gov. Phil Scott, but both vetoes were overturned by the Legislature.

In his June veto message, Scott said non-citizen voting was an important issue that deserved further consideration, but said a city-by-city approach to municipal voting creates inconsistency in electoral policy. Scott reiterated this position on Tuesday when asked about the lawsuits at his weekly press conference.

“We can’t do this piecemeal because the approach Winooski took was different from the approach Montpelier took, so we still need it so that there is no confusion.” Scott said.

Supporters say the non-citizen vote was expanded after being approved by residents of the communities.

“We have a rich history of Vermonters coming together in their towns, cities and towns to work together and chart a course forward that works best for their communities,” said House Speaker Jill Krowinski in June when the House overturned the governor’s veto.

Montpellier city clerk John Odum said on Tuesday that he had not seen the trial, but since the non-citizen vote was approved by the Legislature, any changes would have to be made by the Legislative Assembly.

“I don’t know what there is to gain by suing cities, charters are the law now,” Odum said.

Winooski Mayor Kristine Lott did not respond to a call on Tuesday asking for comment.

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