What Were They Thinking? Multnomah County’s Non-Citizen Voting Proposal

The election’s over, and Measure 26-231, an appalling proposal to let non-citizens vote in Multnomah County, lost 52.79% – 47.21%. But the fact it even got on the ballot should worry us all. 

What in heaven’s name would have propelled a group of citizens to advocate undermining their constitutional rights with such an alarming proposal? And the fact the measure got 163,163 votes is a distressing reminder that the idea of non-citizen voting is in danger of being normalized.

We need to stop pretending like this is okay or normal because it’s not,”  Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) said earlier this year, Non-citizen voting is explicitly un-American and disrespectful to those who fought and died for the preservation of our freedoms and democracy.”

A Charter Review Committee appointed by state senators and representatives who represent districts in Multnomah County initiated the proposal. 

The committee members, all appropriately listing  their She/Her, She/They, They/Them, He/Him pronouns on the committee’s website, were a cabal of overzealous progressives akin to a left-leaning social justice advocacy non-profit intent on remaking the body politic to advance their agenda.

Samantha Gladu (She/They) was described as“…committed to addressing power inequities by building representative and progressive anti-racist leadership.” 

Ana I. González Muñoz (She/Her)…works at Latino Network as the Director of Community Engagement & Leadership Development” and her “… professional and personal commitment revolves around serving her community to advocate for equity, inclusion, and social justice.” 

Jude Perez (They/Them)“…is the Grants Manager at Seeding Justice…an organization that practices community-led grantmaking to distribute funds to grassroots groups that are working towards long-term, systemic solutions, and community-centered strategies to dismantle oppression in Oregon.”

The civic groups that supported the measure[1] deserve to be admonished as well. 

The ACLU of Oregon made the illogical argument that the measure advanced its commitment to the civil liberties and civil rights fundamental to our democracy, ignoring the fact it would mean one less benefit to be gained from becoming a citizen and erode  the integrity of America’s  democracy,

The Oregon Food Bank exceeded its mandate when it endorsed Measure 26-231 because it would “extend voting rights to more local residents who are affected by county policies.”

Measure 26-231 was not just an example of progressive overreach, but of moral rot. It was a sign not of appreciation, but of contempt, for liberal democracy. At its root, it was a progressive attempt to enlarge their base.

The idea made a mockery of citizenship, removing the long-standing linkage between the responsibilities of citizenship and voting rights. 

Before the Nov. 8 election, Ricardo Lujan-Valerio, a policy director to Portland City Commissioner Carmen Rubio and former policy associate at ACLU of Oregon, told OPB he estimated the committee’s proposal “…could potentially affect up to 100,000 people if the final definition of ‘noncitizen’ includes the roughly 22,000 undocumented residents living in Portland.” It’s not clear if that estimate included not just undocumented people in the county illegally, but also people admitted to the US legally, but not yet US citizens.  

That many non-citizens added to Multnomah County’s voting rolls would have resulted in a substantial dilution of the power of the county’s citizen voters.

Justice Ralph J. Porzio, a State Supreme Court justice on New York City’s Staten Island, raised the dilution issue when, on June 27, 2022, he struck down a law that would have allowed non-citizens to vote in local elections in New York City, saying it violated the State Constitution.

“This Court finds that the registration of new voters will certainly affect voters, political parties, candidate’s campaigns, re-elections, and the makeup of their constituency and is not speculative.,” the judge said in his ruling. “The weight of the citizens’ vote will be diluted by municipal voters and candidates and political parties alike will need to reconfigure their campaigns. Though the Plaintiffs have not suffered any harm today, the harm they will suffer is imminent, and it is reasonably certain that they will suffer their claimed harm if the proposed municipal voters are entitled to vote.”

“Voting is of the most fundamental significance under our constitutional structure…The addition of 800,000 to 1,000,000 non-eligible votes into municipal elections significantly devalues the votes of the New York citizens who have lawfully and meaningfully earned the right to vote pursuant to constitutional requirements.”

The Charter Review Committee’s non-citizen voting proposal would have devalued the votes of citizens in Multnomah County and run counter to the values of our constitutional republic. May it rest in peace.

 

 


[1] ACLU of Oregon; Adelante Mujeres; APANO (Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon); Center for Migration, Gender, and Justice; Coalition of Communities of Color; IRCO (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization); Latino Network; Next Up; Oregon Food Bank; Oregon Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice.

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