By Guy Page
The House of Representatives today overrode the vetos of Gov. Phil Scott of two municipal charter changes allowing non-citizen voting.
The House voted 103-47 to override his veto of H177, allowing non-citizen voting in municipal (but not school) elections in the City of Montpelier. The vote followed a strict party line, with all Democrats and Progressives voting yes and all Republicans voting no.
The House then voted 103-47 to override his veto of H227, allowing non-citizen voting in municipal and school elections in the City of Winooski. H227 originally passed 99-47 in the House. Today Winooski Rep. Hal Colston admitted the concerns raised by Winooski non-citizens being allowed to vote in school elections as well, but noted that Winooski has its own school district. Because no other municipalities belong to its school district, there is no possible discrimination against other member towns – as would be the case in Montpelier, which belongs to a multi-town school district.
Colston praised a veto override as an expression of respect for local control, for which the Vermont Legislature is famous, he said. (He did not address a ‘local control’ concern raised yesterday by a former Winooski lawmaker, George Cross: that when given the opportunity to affirm town charter changes upholding gun rights, the Legislature passed.)
Before the vote was held, Rep. Art Peterson (R-Clarendon) noted that the Constitution states that “To vote, you must be a citizen of the United States. Without a very, very clear understanding, I don’t know how we get by that, and allow non-citizens to vote.”
The House adjourned session until October 19, if needed for consideration of federal spending, or until January 4, 2022.