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Time to Rock the Vote? Maryland City Allows Non-Citizens Entry to Ballot Boxes

© Photo : Jaclyn O'LaughlinOn Tuesday, US voters could cast a vote electronically or fill out a paper ballot.
On Tuesday, US voters could cast a vote electronically or fill out a paper ballot. - Sputnik International
Home to the University of Maryland, the city of College Park passed a measure Tuesday night to give non-citizens the chance to vote in municipal elections.

Passing in a 4-3 tally, the measure applies to green card-holders, undocumented immigrants and those with student-visas.

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The decision was first scheduled to take place in August, but was ultimately delayed after council members received several threats over their intentions. According to Mayor Patrick Wojahn, he initially hoped that by pushing the vote back it would bring less attention-- it did not work.

"Voting is the right of the citizens," Beth DeBosky, one of the many residents at the council meeting, told WTOP. "There's a way to include the diverse populations in this community without giving them something that is an intrinsic right to citizens."

Another resident indicted the move should never have even been up to the council members to decide, in fact, it should've been decided through a referendum at the ballot box.

"This is a democracy and the citizens have a right to vote on this," Emily Weant told the outlet. "The council makes an assumption that everybody in the city is in favor of non-citizens voting, and I don't necessarily think that that's the case."

However, despite the several opponents that voiced their opinions, many others thought the move would allow the city to be more inclusive.

"This is the most important way to show all residents have a say in the community we share together," Todd Larsen told WTOP. "Allowing all people to vote in municipal elections is going to make College Park more inclusive."

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Elaine Grant, another supporter, told the publication, "a true democracy allows the affected community to vote on measures that impact them."

In order for non-citizens to vote they have to be a College Park resident, at least 18 years of age on or before the date of the next city election, and not be registered to vote in a different jurisdiction. For those serving time in prison for a felony charge, or convicted of buying or selling votes, they will not be eligible to vote.

Following the final decision, a council member did propose a new amendment that would only allow green card-holders to vote, however, the proposal died after Wojahn voted against it.

College Park will join Hyattsville and Mount Rainier as the third and largest city in Prince George's County to allow non-citizens to vote in municipal elections.

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