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Vermont House votes to override noncitizen voting veto

June 23, 2021 GMT

The Vermont House on Wednesday voted to override Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s veto of separate bills that would change the municipal charters of the cities of Montpelier and Winooski to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections.

The votes were 103 to 47 on both measures.

“We have a rich history of Vermonters coming together in their cities, towns, and villages to work together and chart a path forward that works best for their communities,” House Speaker Jill Krowinski said in a written statement. “These charters expand local voting rights to residents of these respective communities, and these decisions were made by the voters after robust discussion and deliberation.”

The Democrat-controlled Senate is expected to take up the measure on Thursday.

In Vermont, attempts to override vetoes by the governor must start in the chamber where the legislation was first introduced. To override a veto, each chamber must do so by a two-thirds vote of the members present.

Last November, voters in Winooski — considered to be one of the most diverse cities in northern New England — authorized noncitizens to vote in local elections if they were in the U.S. legally. In 2019, the city of Montpelier passed a similar measure, but it did not pass the Legislature in 2020.

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In his veto message, Scott said noncitizen-voting was an important issue that deserves further consideration but said a town-by-town approach to municipal voting creates inconsistency in election policy.

The Senate is expected to hold a token session on Wednesday and then meet on Thursday, when they would attempt to override a bill that would raise the age of juvenile offenders and keep identifying information confidential.

Any public agency would be barred from releasing information about the initial arrest or charge of a person under age 20. The bill would allow the release of information in order to protect the health and safety of any person.

In his veto letter, Scott said that he had concerns with giving “young adults protections meant for juveniles, without adequate tools or systems in place.”

“In addition to ongoing housing challenges, programs designed and implemented for children under 18 are often not appropriate for those over 18,” Scott said.

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This story has been corrected to show that the votes to override were 103 to 47, not 227 to 177.