Vermont House overrides governor’s vetoes on noncitizen voting in local elections

Wikimedia Commons/Ken Gallager

NONCITIZEN VOTING:  Noncitizens in Winooski and Montpelier will be able to vote in local elections if this week’s special session results in an override of vetoes by Gov. Phil Scott.

The Vermont House of Representatives on Wednesday successfully overrode the governor’s vetoes of H.227 and H.177, two bills that seek to allow noncitizen voting in Winooski and Montpelier, respectively.

The Senate will take up the bills during an override session Thursday or Friday.

The House voted 103-47 to override the governor, reaching slightly more than the two-thirds threshold required. The Montpelier charter change allows for voting in municipal, but not school, elections. The change for Winooski pertains to voting on both municipal and school elections.

When lawmakers spoke to explain their votes, Rep. Arthur Peterson, R-Clarendon, was the only one to speak against the charger changes. He said the Vermont Constitution explicitly prohibits noncitizens from voting in any elections.

“I still go back to chapter 2, paragraph 42 which clearly states that to vote you must be a citizen of the United States,” Peterson told his colleagues. “Without a very, very clear understanding or something written differently, I don’t know how we get by that and allow noncitizens to vote.”

Rep. John Gannon, D-Wilmington, was one of several to speak in favor.

“That charter amendment has been vetted by your House Government Operations Committee, vigorously debated in this body, and overwhelmingly approved not once, but twice,” he said. ” … Few bills have received as much consideration and debate as this charter amendment.”

Rep. Taylor Small, P/D-Winooski, was another House member to speak for the bills.

“All of Winooski’s residents contribute to our community in a multitude of ways,” she said. “And together we create the advantageous diversity that our community has celebrated for almost 100 years regardless of citizenship status. This change to our charter will allow any qualified Winooski resident to have a voice in local matters that affect them, their families, and their lives.”

Rep. Hal Colston, D-Winooski, weighed in on the constitutionality question.

“It does appear constitutionally permissible for the General Assembly to provide the qualifications to vote and hold office in local elections that are different from those constitutionally required for our general elections,” he said.

Republican governor Phil Scott provided a letter of explanation when he first vetoed the charter changes.

“Allowing a highly variable town-by-town approach to municipal voting creates inconsistency in election policy, as well as separate and unequal classes of residents potentially eligible to vote on local issues,” Scott wrote when he rejected the Montpelier measure. “I believe it is the role of the Legislature to establish clarity and consistency on this matter. This should include defining how municipalities determine which legal residents may vote on local issues, as well as specifying the local matters they may vote on. Returning these bills provides the opportunity to do this important work.”

According to Ballotpedia, Arizona and North Dakota have moved in the opposite direction of Vermont on this matter. Those states have passed laws specifically barring local municipalities from allowing illegals to vote in elections. They also state “No state constitutions explicitly allowed noncitizens to vote in state or local elections.”

The same report states that at least 10 other municipalities in the nation allow noncitizens to vote, and nine of them are in Maryland, while another is in California.

The Senate will have its opportunity to vote on the bills Thursday or Friday.

The Senate is also expected to attempt an override vote of Scott’s veto of S.107, which raises the maximum age of charging an individual as a juvenile from 19 to 20 years old.

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

Images courtesy of Flickr/Gage Skidmore and Wikimedia Commons/Ken Gallager

5 thoughts on “Vermont House overrides governor’s vetoes on noncitizen voting in local elections

  1. Dem/Progs pols, etc., use the coercive power of Socialist government to create more government in every area.

    The latest fads are:

    1) Open borders to all comers from all sorts of s… countries; criminals, rapists, human traffickers, illiterates, unskilled. Spread them all throughout the US.

    2) Have everyone vote, citizen or not, even dead people, criminals, illegals, under-age people, out-of-state people, and the mentally retarded.
    If they HAVE an address, valid or not (we are toooo busy to check), mail them a ballot.

    We don’t care who fills it out. We will count it
    Send it in. We will count it
    Not signed and dated? We will count it.
    No signature on file? We will count it.
    Count until they croak; break their will.

    3) Global warming and

    4) HUMAN infrastructures.

    Pelosi says no physical infrastructure, without HUMAN infrastructure

    Bernie Sanders is a card-carrying Socialist/Communist, from Brooklyn, NY, who migrated to Burlington, VT, who celebrated his HONEYMOON in the USSR, before the Iron Curtain came down

    His aim-high number is $6 TRILLION
    Oh, he will “compromise” at 5.7 TRILLION
    He says: “the need is so great, a large number is needed”.

    Dem/Progs are not business people; their career-path is in running the GOVERNMENT, including fraudulant counting of ballots in elections.

    If they have a “business”, it likely is a subsidized non-profit (oops a dirty word) connected to a government program.

    The more government, the more Dem/Progs thrive, at the expense of all others.

    It does not matter what area of “goods and services” (energy, healthcare, education, transportation, infrastructure, etc.) they provide.

  2. Since the U.S. Government has an open border policy it only make sense that noncitizens should have a vote in determining how the Government is run.

  3. P&D’s not respecting written law’s what a surprise. Not caring about the cost to Vermonters when the law suits start rolling in because of another mess they started.
    Again not surprising, what has to change is the voters in the state.. voting these laws by feelings politicians in isn’t sustainable…

  4. So Montpelier & Winooski will have their way and let Illegals to vote, I guess being a
    criminal, yes criminals as they broke our immigration laws so that shows laws mean
    nothing to them and Vermont’s legislators……. I thought they took an oath ???

    I can’t wait until these cities local budgets blossom out of control with every foolish
    bill and budget that gets passed…….

    Vermont, you vote these fools in every year and this is what you get from this gaggle
    of fools under the” Gloden Doom”, doom for the state and its citizens !!

  5. Again, the Vermont House seems to deem themselves above those it rules over- and against a well considered explanation from the Governor (whom no doubt sought legal opinion) proceeded to override the veto. Hopefully the Senate will not take up the bill. What Gov. Scott wrote is correct and if the override succeeds we will pay for the litigation required because the House in it’s arrogance doesn’t see fit to work out the problems Scott outlined.
    It is unfortunate that we taxpayers and voters must continue to pay for the mistakes and bad policy of the legislative bodies in Montpelier.

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