Voting Rights: Earned or Entitled?
Please find below an excerpt from my most recent article for the Harvard Political Review. The entire article is viewable online here, and I encourage you to read it.
It can be easy to forget that suffrage laws in the United States have changed a great deal over the years; indeed they have changed relatively recently. As a general matter, suffrage rights evolve to become more inclusive, but there is at least one group that, since the beginning of the 20th century, has lost the franchise in American elections: non-citizens. Once commonly accepted in the United States, non-citizen voting has been extinct since Arkansas became the last state to ban it in 1926. Although it is not mentioned in the United States Constitution, non-citizen voting is now explicitly prohibited in several state constitutions.
The controversy surrounding non-citizen voting is closely tied to ongoing debates over immigration, as well as the role of citizenship in a democracy. Reformers who are interested in expanding suffrage to non-citizens will have difficulty until the public comes closer to a resolution of these other two issues.
View the rest of the article here.