State lawmakers discuss non-citizen voting rights

Published: Mar. 11, 2019 at 6:36 PM EDT
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Lawmakers in Augusta today discussed a bill that would amend the state constitution to require everyone who votes in Maine elections to be U.S. citizens.

"This bill adds one sentence to the Constitution of Maine," said bill sponsor Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor. "'Only a citizen of the United States may vote in a state, county, or municipal or other election.' This amendment simply sets in stone what the framers of the Constitution already implied and intended all along."

This legislation discussed Monday is in response to an effort underway in Portland to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections.

Non-citizens are not allowed to vote in any state or federal elections.

"It's unfortunate that such a resolution as LD 186 should be necessary, but when cities like Portland, where Maine citizens are literally living in tent cities while non-citizens take up over 80% of overcrowded shelter space, are determined to promote the destruction of the Republic by eroding the essence of citizenship, it becomes clear that action by the state is unavoidable," said Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro, who also vice chairs the Maine Republican Party.

Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling spoke in opposition to the bill. He called it anti-immigrant.

"We're merely saying, we want to be able to decide who should be able to vote in our city, and if our people -- because our people will have to vote on it -- decide that we want to make sure that every resident has the right to vote, we should be allowed to implement that," said Strimling.

Portland still has a few votes before that proposal would go to a referendum.