Portland Question 4: Should non-citizens have the right to vote?

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PORTLAND — Voters on Nov. 2 will be asked if legal immigrants living in the city should be allowed to vote on local issues, including the school budget and City Council elections.

While proponents of Question 4 say allowing non-citizen voting is a way for legal immigrants to have more of a voice in their community, opponents believe voting is a right reserved for U.S. citizens.

If the measure is approved, legal immigrants over the age of 18 will be allowed to vote in city elections. The question does not allow legal immigrants to seek elected office or to vote in state or federal elections.

Portland has a large immigrant and refugee population.

“These are people living in Portland, paying taxes and sending their kids to school,” said Will Everitt, director of the League of Young Voters, which supports Question 4.

But City Councilor Jill Duson said that instead of changing local voting laws, energy should be put behind projects designed to help people become citizens.

A Portland High School law and public policy class will present a televised forum on Question 4 later this month. Students interviewed residents at the local farmers market and also a panel of city officials and advocates, including city attorney Gary Wood, City Clerk Linda Cohen, Everitt and Sudanese immigrant Alfred Jacob.

The forum is scheduled to run on local access Channel 3 Oct. 26-31 at 8 p.m., Oct. 29-31 at noon and Nov. 1 at 6 p.m.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net