Virginia Harper-Ho, “Noncitizen Voting Rights: The History, the Law, and Current Prospects for Change," 2000

Harper-Ho’s central argument in this piece is that granting “resident aliens,” that is, permanent residents, the right to vote in local elections is in keeping with the political history of the United States and may help to fill the nation’s promise of democracy while addressing the policy rationales and objections surrounding noncitizen voting. Harper-Ho offers a legal historical overview of localized noncitizen voting—drawing mostly on legal and court records—to highlight different and locally-determined forms of political participation, especially voting rights that were extended to noncitizens, from the early republic through the late-nineteenth century. The main purpose of her analysis of noncitizen suffrage in past practice is to deflect some of the criticisms against the idea of noncitizen voting in the present. This piece supplements my work as a model of ways of thinking about possibilities for alternative and denationalized means to political participation.

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