Vermont Governor Seeks to Allow Noncitizens to Vote in Local Elections

June 5, 2021 Updated: June 5, 2021

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott indicated on Tuesday that he wants state lawmakers to pass legislation that gives voting rights to all legal residents statewide in local elections.

Scott made the comments in his official letters vetoing two bills, H.177 (pdf) and H.227 (pdf), which proposed to allow noncitizen residents of Montpelier and Winooski to vote in local elections, respectively.

“This is an important policy discussion that deserves further consideration and debate,” Scott said in the letters. “I understand these charter changes are well-intentioned, but I ask the Legislature to revisit the issue of non-citizen voting in a more comprehensive manner and develop a statewide policy or a uniform template and process for those municipalities wishing to grant the right of voting in local elections to all legal residents.”

State House Speaker Jill Krowinski opposed Scott’s veto and signaled she’s working to override the veto.

“I can appreciate the Governor’s desire to have a statewide framework for policy, and that is important in some policy matters, but it simply doesn’t work in situations like this that require charters to be tailored to a specific community,” Krowinski said in a statement.

“The legislature is returning on June 23 to June 24, and this is something that we feel strongly must be addressed to recognize and honor the voices of the citizens of Montpelier and Winooski,” Krowinski added.

Democrats control both the House and Senate in Vermont.

Scott, a Republican, notably voted for President Joe Biden in last year’s election.

“As many of you knew, I didn’t support President [Donald] Trump. I wasn’t going to vote for him. Then I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t enough for me to just not vote. I had to vote against,” Scott said at the time, VTDigger reported.

Last month, Scott also expressed his willingness to sign a bill that would allow sending general election mail-in ballots to all active voters.

Epoch Times Photo
Mail-in ballots at the Salt Lake County election office in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Oct. 29, 2020. (George Frey/AFP via Getty Images)

“I think that getting more people out to vote, making it as easy as possible for them to do so, to exercise this right was something that was beneficial to Vermont,” Scott said.

Both the House and Senate passed the bill, S. 15 (pdf), which would make permanent the measures used last year during the pandemic. The bill was delivered to Scott on Tuesday.

Vermont would become the 7th state to allow permanent mail-in voting if Scott signed it into law.

Nevada just became the 6th state to allow universal mail-in voting when Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a law on Wednesday. The other five states are Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.