The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
News Features  |  Talking Politics  |  This Just In

Immigrant voting heads for the ballot

Broader democracy
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  August 18, 2010

Portland voters will decide in November whether non-citizen, legal immigrants should be able to vote in municipal elections. If the measure passes, thousands of immigrants would be able to vote — but not to run for office — on issues like local taxes and schools, as long as they could show proof of identity and legal status.

After a setback in March, when the city's charter commission voted not to suggest amending the charter to allow non-citizen voting (commission members have since said they thought the question was too big for their jurisdiction), the League of Young Voters launched a petition drive to get the referendum question on the November 2 ballot, arguing, among other things, that these legal residents pay taxes and should not lack a voice in how those taxes are spent. They needed 4487 signatures (20 percent of the people who voted in the 2006 gubernatorial election). They collected 2400 on primary day in June, and the remainder on the streets of Portland over the last few months. On the evening of August 10, the signatures were approved.

READ: "Wait your turn to vote," by Shay Stewart-Bouley
The League's Maine state director Will Everitt says the Voting Rights Now campaign was successful "for two reasons. The bottom line is when you talk to people about legal residents and how they're our neighbors, and the taxation without representation piece, people just get it. And the other thing is, we had 40 volunteers working on this thing."

Their task now is to reframe the semantics of the debate.

"Arizona has kind of made the word 'immigrant' kind of synonymous with 'illegal,'" Everitt says, referring to the heated immigration-policy debate going on in the Southwest. And he recognizes that the only way to turn that tide is by making face-to-face contact with voters: "If you go in the voting booth without having had a conversation about this, there's a good chance you'll vote no."

Now that the question has qualified, the city council has to approve the measure for the ballot; a hearing to that end will take place on Monday, August 30, at 5 pm in City Hall. It's mostly just a formality, but it could be a great opportunity to see both sides finessing their arguments — that is, if the opposition, which at this point is largely limited to the Portland Press Herald online comment boards, comes out.

Related: 2009 had some redeeming qualities - really, Split atop the RI Tea Party, A lawyer’s adventures in bad judgment, More more >
  Topics: This Just In , Politics, Portland Press Herald, League of Young Voters,  More more >
| More
Add Comment
HTML Prohibited

 Friends' Activity   Popular   Most Viewed 
[ 02/14 ]   "I Heart DUBSTEP! Valentine's Night"  @ Middle East Downstairs
[ 02/14 ]   "Love Letters to the Art"  @ Back Bay Events Center
[ 02/14 ]   "Lovers & Dreamers"  @ Milky Way
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   FOUND IN TRANSLATION  |  February 02, 2011
    When Susan Conley, her husband, and their two young boys moved from Maine to Beijing in 2008, she had plans to write about her experience as a mother in that huge, foreign world.
  •   MAKING THE GRADE  |  January 26, 2011
    Portland students are struggling with reading at elementary and secondary levels, according to a report released last week. Meanwhile, the city's two high schools are close to achieving gender equity in athletic programs, says a separate report.
  •   MAYOR'S RACE KICKS OFF  |  January 26, 2011
    Last week, the first three mayoral candidates filed their paperwork. So begins Portland’s first elected-mayor campaign in more than eight decades.
  •   FARMING AND THE FUTURE  |  January 19, 2011
    The announcement of the Maine Farmland Trust's ambitious 100,000-acre preservation goal wasn't the only farming news this month (see " Another row to hoe "). And, some thoughts about what lies ahead on the green front.
  •   ANOTHER ROW TO HOE  |  January 19, 2011
    Big news coming out of the Maine Agricultural Trades Show earlier this month (from which the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, MOFGA, was bizarrely excluded): the Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) announced a $50 million campaign to preserve 100,000 acres of farmland in the Pine Tree State over the next three years.

 See all articles by: DEIRDRE FULTON

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2011 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group