Councilman Adam Roof, who wrote the decision within the purpose of making a extra inclusive and engaged neighborhood, argued that since native authorities impacts each citizen, then each citizen throughout the neighborhood ought to have voting rights. He argued that this was in keeping with Burlington’s values, and identified that it was in step with the already-approved Diversity and Equity Strategic Plan.
“The main goal of the city’s Diversity and Equity Strategic Plan from 2014 is to create a more inclusive and engaged community, which is critical because we know that broad participation in the democratic process strengthens the entirety of the community,” stated Roof to WCAX-TV.
“The right to vote is more important now than ever before. All residents have the right, in my eyes, to participate in the local democratic process, and the highest level of participation in that process is being able to cast your vote. To that end, I am pushing to expand voting rights in Burlington to all residents of the city in order to lower the barrier to participation and build a more inclusive community. The city is in a position to look at this issue again and hopefully have a different outcome on the ballot in March.”
One citizen spoke out towards the measure on the vote, saying the council was “pandering” politically to their voting bases. “We have 40,000-plus registered voters. How many of those are nonresident college students who vote on our property taxes, our legislators, our city leadership, which includes all of you, and much more, and then move away?”
Council President Kurt Wright, a Republican, acknowledged that he voted towards the measure, stating that he believes solely American residents deserve voting rights throughout the neighborhood.
“I think that’s important. I would not expect to move to another country and not become a citizen and expect to be voting in their elections,” stated Wright. “We voted on this just a few years ago and the citizens of Burlington voted significantly against it so I’m not supportive of this proposal.”
The measure should be absolutely ratified by the Charter Change Committee, then by town Legislature.
The same measure was handed by neighboring city Montpelier, although Governor Phil Scott has not signed it into legislation, admitting he is on the fence about it and fears it would violate state legal guidelines.