Controversial bill could allow newly arrived noncitizens to vote instantly in Winooski elections

Wikimedia Commons/Ken Gallager

VISIT AND VOTE?: Under a Winooski city charter proposal under consideration by the Vermont Legislature, all a visitor would have to do is tell the city clerk that he or she intends to stay, and that person can take the oath required to vote.

A bill to allow noncitizens to vote in municipal elections in Winooski could potentially allow out-of-towners to arrive just before an election and participate. The bill got held up Tuesday on the virtual floor of the House of Representatives due to multiple controversies.

After lengthy debate, the bill, H.227, was sent back to House Education Committee so members could re-examine its potential impacts on state budgets, especially regarding the state’s education fund.

To find out just how easy this bill could make it for a non-Winooski resident to show up and vote,  Rep. Woodman Page, R-Newport, put forth a hypothetical scenario to colleagues.

“So, Madame Speaker, you could actually arrive in Winooski today and vote tomorrow?” he asked.

The presenter of the bill, Rep. Hal Colston, D-Winooski, confirmed it to be so.

“If you make Winooski your home and that’s what you attest to, yes,” Colston said, speaking for the Committee on Government Operations, which approved the legislation on an 8-3 vote..

Page asked Colston how long someone has to be a resident in order to be able to vote. In response, Colston said the requirement is to take the oath and to confirm to the clerk that the person aims to live in the city and perform the civic responsibilities that come with being a resident.

“It’s a matter of declaring that your residency is here in the city, and of course that you can provide documentation that you are a legal resident,” Colston said, noting that if passed into law, H.227 would allow noncitizen voters to vote on a variety of municipal matters.

Rep. Charles “Butch” Shaw, R-Pittsford, asked if these voters could be voting on school, town, or highway budgets that will contain state funding. “Would they technically be voting on state funding when they are answering these local questions?” he asked.

Colston said yes.

“They will have the privilege to vote on all matters as all other legal residents,” Colston said. “They will have the right to vote on all local issues that pertain to the City of Winooski as well as the school board.”

Upon hearing that, Shaw said he could not then support the proposal.

“I really don’t have much of a problem in local elections on local issues, but in my opinion, we are spilling out beyond local questions when we start voting on items that have state funding in it,” Shaw said.

Rep. Anne Donahue, R-Northfield, said she voted in favor of a similar charter change for the city of Montpelier, but added that the proposed charter change for Winooski was different.

“Because of the statewide education fund, what individual cities vote on their budget has a very direct impact on the budgets of other cities,” she said. “That is no longer a city-only impact, it impacts other cities. For that reason, I can’t support this charter change.”

Rep. Scott Beck, R-St. Johnsbury, echoed those concerns.

“It would be unwise and possibly unconstitutional to allow a different set of voter criteria on one district than another district,” he said.

Rep, Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, agreed, saying, “I think we’re getting into some concerning territory on this one.”

Other representatives, including Democrats and independents, chimed in with similar concerns.

Rep. Scott Campbell, D-St. Johnsbury, wondered if even non-school-related municipal budgets voted on by noncitizens in Winooski would be fair or unfair to the rest of the state.

“Is there a difference between how municipal projects might affect state funding and the way school budgets affect statewide education funding?” he said.

Rep. Laura Sibilia, I-Dover, said she saw a constitutional problem with the Winooski proposal.

“Unfortunately we have a situation here, in which a number of my colleagues are doing a great job of articulating, and that is our constitution says that every person who is a citizen of the United States can vote in our state elections,” she said. “… This is really really difficult for me. … I would like them to be able to vote, but the constitutional issue here is quite troubling to me.”

As a potential solution, some lawmakers suggested creating an amendment to the bill to prohibit noncitizen voting on the school budget, since that money is closely tied into state funds.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Ken Gallager

11 thoughts on “Controversial bill could allow newly arrived noncitizens to vote instantly in Winooski elections

  1. Quick! Someone alert Isis. They wouldn’t want to miss out on this “Golden Opportunity” to further expand the Caliphate!

  2. Breathtakingly stunning level of insanity. Welcome to the VSSR ruled by DemocratMarxist Party of One-Voice fully supported by One-Voice Pravda-approved MSM – courtesy of Dominion Voting Machines

    And where’s that Covid-cancelled Audit Commissar Condos

    • Interestingly – Condos guidance for out of state homeowners is “if they intend to stay here they can vote in VT”

  3. Well, it would be easy to have such self-declared “residents” post a $20,000 bond, financed by a VERMONT LICENSED bonds man, to ensure the sincerity of the prospective resident.

    The person would be released from the bond, as soon as the person would show, within 60 days, most of the following: utility bills, property tax bill, accounts in banks, valid mailing address where that person receives mail, car registration, social security proof of residence, IRS proof of residence, etc.

    If after 60 days no documents, the bond would be called for payment by the bonds man.

    • If no such guarantee were not imposed, we all can easily foresee busloads of people, coming from elsewhere, a few days before any election, to “exercise” their sacred right to vote.

      What a festive atmosphere it would be!!

      Vermont would be the laughing stock of the world, for sure.

      Yikes, the idiocy of it all is beyond rational, out-of-this world.

      Such folks actually get elected to the Vermont Legislature?

      Or, do such folks wake up one day and have such “epiphanies”.

      Gee, what is next?

  4. “…At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide….”

    – Abraham Lincoln’s 1838 Lyceum Address, titled ‘The Perpetuation of our Political Institutions

  5. This is Vermonts most pressing issue, more so when we have an exodus of residents?

    How about we allow second home owners to vote, they might have something to say on the fleecing they get on their tax bills along with the very little if any services.

    We know their game plan, this will come up every session. It’s really not that difficult, be a resident and you can vote.

    Of course Molly Grey didn’t reside in the previous 4 years to holding the election, which totally disqualifies her from holding office. Nobody was willing to call it out, or even ask for a declaratory ruling. Life is hard enough, we don’t need to be cheating the voters by canceling legitimate votes with stuff like this.

  6. There once was a process to citizenship. There once was a green card which you applied for and were vetted for. And if you followed the rules of the new country you could apply for citizenship. I never remember s step where one was allowed to vote in the meantime and I was a legal immigrant. If you can follow the rules why would you get the rights of the country?

  7. Would this allow illegal aliens to vote for political representation? State representation? How state or federal monies are allocated?

    Foreign Nationals who have entered this country and are living here illegibly are in violation of Federal Law. I would think that anything that attempts to normalize their situation would be considered aiding and abetting.

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