A city in Maryland has voted to allow residents who are not US citizens to cast a ballot in local elections.
The College Park City Council along with six other towns will allow undocumented immigrants and legal permanent residents a vote in future municipal elections.
The decision was made following a postponement late last month when one unnamed city council members received a ‘very serious threat’ over the phone right before the vote.
The College Park City Council in Maryland decided to allow undocumented immigrants a say in who represents them in local government on Tuesday
The Mayor of College Park City, Patrick Wojahn, also said he received a number of angry phone calls prior to the decision, noting that many of the callers were not residents of the city.
The debate before Tuesday’s vote was also very contentious, with dozens of people waiting to speak on the matter.
‘Although you come up here and you say that there are hundreds of citizens and residents of College Park that are for this charter, I can tell you that there are thousands against it,’ one person who was against non-citizen voting told the committee.
Todd Larson, who supported the proposal, said standing up for the most vulnerable in the community should be embraced as a matter of principal.
‘The reality is allowing all people to vote in municipal elections is going to make College Park more inclusive, and that has been the history of voting rights expansion in the United States and what has happened in our neighbors in Maryland who have expanded voting rights to non-US citizens.’
Mayor Patrick Wojahn (pictured) said afterwards that it was important that the residents who live in the community have a say in who represents them
The vote was postponed a month after a threatening phone call was place to an unidentified council member
Following the decision, Wojahn explained that the measure was a way for unrecognized residents to have in representative government.
‘There are people who have been in this city for decades,’ Wojahn told FOX DC5, ‘who contribute in many different ways.
The mayor said that these residents are ‘paying taxes, volunteering on committees, being apart of the civic association who are not able to vote because of their citizen status and some of these folks don’t have any legal path to citizenship.’
‘[This] would be giving them an opportunity to have a voice in who their representatives are, who’s governing their city.’