Voto Votez Vote is an open source, nonpartisan, door-to-door canvassing project created to promote participation among eligible noncitizen voters in the United States. Although it is based in Takoma Park, MD, Voto Votez Vote can be used by any municipal district that allows noncitizen voting.
What is noncitizen voting rights?
Noncitizen voting, also known as alien suffrage or local citizenship, is a policy implemented in eleven municipal districts in Maryland including Takoma Park, MD, that allows all residents to vote in their city elections regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. This policy has great potential to build political power within noncitizen communities, which will ultimately challenge the subordinate position that many noncitizens—and often people of color—are relegated to in the United States.
The countless benefits claimed for noncitizen voting rest on one major assumption—noncitizens will take advantage of the opportunity when presented. However, the participation of noncitizen residents in elections is always significantly below the participation rates of citizens. In fact, only 2.2 percent of the noncitizen residents with the voting right in the Ward 5 of Takoma Park voted in 2007. Takoma Park has been implementing noncitizen voting since 1992.
It also has been discovered that in presidential and midterm elections, Spanish-language ballots do not increase the likelihood of voting among first-generation Latinos, and Chinese-language ballots do not increase the likelihood of voting among first-generation Chinese. The same can be assumed for noncitizen voting in Takoma Park; the simple translation of the ballot will not have a significant change.
Voto Votez Vote believes that social and economic assimilation that noncitizens experience is the primary cause of low political participation—they simply cannot put local politics their priority. This is why voter outreach programs such as canvassing are needed. By developing a safe and personal interaction between the resident voters, we will be able to provide resources while promoting genuine interest to participate in the election.