View Full Version : Does the US Constitution forbid non-citizens to vote?
12-30-2003, 04:41 AM
I know nothing of Constitutional Law, but I just read the thing, and I have a question. Simply out of curiosity.
As best as I can tell, the US Constitution leaves it up to the individual states to determine how their Presidential Electors are chosen (in Article II, Section 1). And Amendments XIV, XV, XIX, XXIV, and XXVI guarantee the right to vote to certain citizens. But I can find nowhere that it says only citizens may vote. Am I missing or misinterpreting something, or are states free to allow resident non-citizens, or people under 18, or citizens of other states, to vote in their state?
12-30-2003, 09:51 AM
In the late 1800s and early 1900s quite a number of states allowed non-citizens to vote, so I don't think the US constitution prohibits it. A common provision for non-citizens(males) to vote was intention to become naturalized.
The idea lost favor in the early 1900s. The practice in Texas was particularly interesting -- large numbers of Mexican citizens were
bribed to make a one day visit just to vote.
12-30-2003, 06:34 PM
Thanks! Do you know offhand if there are any states that still allow this sort of thing in any capacity?
12-30-2003, 06:44 PM
There has been much discussion recently in New York City about allowing non-citizen residents to vote in municipal elections.
You're right that the Constitution does not ban non-citizens from voting.
12-31-2003, 08:15 AM
Though it probably isn't legal, in Chicago I know several people who told me they voted in the last presidental election (Two Fillipinos, 1 Australian and 1 English lady). They just registered and voted. When I told the English lady she said she'd been here since she was 7 (she doesn't have an accent or anything) and she said she first registered when she was 18 and she was suprised when I told here I don't think you were supposed to be voting.
12-31-2003, 09:29 AM
When I first moved the US I lived in a motor voter state. You can vote just by showing a driver's license. Of course, state law also says you must be a citizen, but there's no requirement to be a citizen to obtain a driver's license. Every November I was accosted by folks working on political campaigns trying to drum up voters and get them registered to vote. Each encounter went something like this:
campaign worker: are you registered to vote
cw: you can register right now, just show me your driver's license
me: no I can't, I'm not a citizen
cw: but if you have a driver's license you can vote!
If I ever did register to vote, I would have been screwed when I applied for citizenship (see http://uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/files/N-400.pdf near the bottom of page 6).
As both motor voter laws and the 9/11 attacks proved, the driver's license has become the defacto "citizenship" document.
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