On Thursday, the Republican National Committee and the Vermont Republican Party announced they are suing the city of Winooski, Vermont for allowing noncitizens to vote in school board elections and on education budget referendums. Two concerned Winooski residents are also a part of the lawsuit.
The lawsuit comes after the Vermont Supreme Court ruled against the RNC’s previous lawsuit asking judges to find noncitizen voting unconstitutional. While the court argued the Vermont Constitution did not categorically bar noncitizen residents from voting in municipal elections, it did find that votes with statewide implications would require United States citizenship, an RNC spokeswoman told The Federalist.
That is why the RNC’s lawsuit is narrower in scope this time. It only argues that allowing noncitizens to vote on Winooski’s school board members and education budget is unconstitutional. Such elections have a statewide impact as the town’s annual education budget, which is created by the school board, is funded via state expenditures. In other words, noncitizen residents would be voting on measures that directly affect the Vermont taxpayer.
“The Vermont Constitution draws a clear line that noncitizens are ineligible to vote in elections with statewide implications, which include questions about state-funded programs like public school education,”said Derek Lyons, CEO and president of Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections, an election integrity advocacy group supporting the lawsuit. “Americans broadly understand that noncitizen voting is a threat to our democracy. This principle is enshrined in Vermont’s constitution, which prohibits noncitizen voting in local elections from imposing burdens on citizens living in the rest of the state.”
In 2020, the town of Winooski voted to allow noncitizen residents to cast ballots in municipal elections — following the example of Montpelier, Vermont, which voted to do so in 2018. In 2021, the Democrat-controlled Vermont legislature approved changes to both cities’ charters to allow for noncitizen voting, over Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s veto. While federal law prohibits noncitizens from voting in federal elections, several jurisdictions across the U.S. allow noncitizens to vote in local elections.
This isn’t the first lawsuit the RNC has filed against noncitizen voting. In June 2022, the RNC successfully won a lawsuit against a New York City law that would’ve allowed 800,000 noncitizen residents to vote in the city’s elections.
“American elections should only be decided by American citizens in Vermont and nationwide,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a press release. “This lawsuit is a continuation of the RNC’s fight to protect the vote and ensure that the franchise is only extended to citizens of this country. We won a lawsuit against New York City on this same issue last year, and we are fighting for another victory on behalf of election integrity and Vermont voters.”