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dc.contributor.authorWeaver, Russell
dc.description.abstractIn the U.S., voting is treated as a discretionary political right rather than an inalienable natural right, meaning that who can and cannot vote is subject to variation over time and space. Although Americans are taught to believe that voting is now widely available to all adult citizens because of the successful struggles that extended the franchise to women and African Americans, the reality is far more complicated. To be sure, for much the nation’s historical record, voting rights were tied to residency, not citizenship – meaning that non-citizens (i.e., immigrants) were able to participate in elections at various levels of government. Non-citizen voting was widely practiced into the 20th Century, and it was not particularly controversial. That changed, however, when increasingly class-conscious immigrants began strengthening the power of labor relative to capital and adding fuel to progressive movements. To stamp out the potential threat that progressive immigrant voting blocs posed to status quo power relations, states steadily stripped non-citizens of voting rights. By the late 1920s, citizenship was a near-universal requirement for voting across the map. More recently, acknowledging that an inability to participate in the electoral decisions that affect one’s life is inconsistent with all notions of democracy, the immigrant rights movement has been actively working to reestablish resident-based (local) voting rights for non-citizens. Recent successes in places like Takoma Park, MD, and New York City offer examples to be followed by other jurisdictions. This article makes the case for reestablishing resident-based voting rights in the specific city of Buffalo, NY – first by presenting an historical and legal justification, and then by synthesizing relevant data to illustrate how extant patterns of inequality are reinforced when the political voices of immigrants and their neighborhoods are minimized. Ultimately, the article finds that restoring immigrant voting rights in Buffalo is both possible and justified; but that successfully doing so might hinge on first enacting sanctuary city policies to ensure non-citizens that their (eventual) participation in local elections will not expose them to federal immigration officials.en_US
dc.subjectvoting rightsen_US
dc.subjectlocal electionsen_US
dc.subjectBuffalo, New Yorken_US
dc.titleBack to the Future of Local Elections: Reestablishing Resident Voting Rights to Strengthen Municipal Democracyen_US
schema.accessibilitySummaryAccessible pdfen_US

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