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Judge upholds law allowing illegal immigrants to vote

Judge's gavel. (Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/U.S. Air Force)
March 22, 2024

A federal judge dismissed a conservative lawsuit Thursday against a law that allows noncitizens to vote in Washington, D.C. The law, which was passed in 2022, currently allows illegal immigrants and foreign embassy staff members to participate in municipal elections.

In Thursday’s ruling, Judge Amy Berman Jackson claimed the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), a conservative group representing U.S. citizen voters, lacked the necessary standing in order to challenge the controversial law. Jackson ruled that the plaintiffs did not show how they were harmed by the law allowing noncitizens to vote and hold public office in Washington, D.C.

Jackson wrote that the lawsuit “does not include facts showing plaintiffs‘ right to vote has been denied, that they have been subjected to discrimination or inequitable treatment or denied opportunities when compared to another group, or that their rights as citizens have been ‘subordinated merely because of [their] father’s country of origin.'”

Fox News reported that the IRLI’s lawsuit challenged the “Local Resident Votings Rights Act,” which was passed in October 2022 by the D.C. Council. The law allows noncitizens to vote in local elections if they have lived in Washington, D.C., for at least 30 days. The law also allows noncitizen D.C. residents to serve on the city’s Board of Elections and run for local public office positions.

According to Fox News, the Local Resident Voting Rights Act has led to significant controversy and even resulted in an unsuccessful attempt by some federal lawmakers to overturn the law. In the recent lawsuit, the IRLI warned that the D.C. law “dilutes the vote of every U.S. citizen voter in the District” by allowing illegal immigrants and other noncitizens to vote.

READ MORE: Illegal immigrants could sway elections, experts warn

The IRLI added, “Because it does so, the D.C. Noncitizen Voting Act is subject to review under both the equal protection and the substantive due process components of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

While the IRLI requested that the court issue an injunction to prevent D.C.’s Board of Elections from continuing to count noncitizen votes under the Local Resident Votings Rights Act, Jackson ultimately ruled to dismiss the lawsuit.

In her ruling, Jackson wrote that the plaintiffs did not show how they “have personally been subjected to any sort of disadvantage as individual voters” due to the law allowing noncitizens to vote in Washington, D.C.

The judge added, “They may object as a matter of policy to the fact that immigrants get to vote at all, but their votes will not receive less weight or be treated differently than noncitizens’ votes; they are not losing representation in any legislative body; nor have citizens as a group been discriminatorily gerrymandered, ‘packed’ or ‘cracked’ to divide, concentrate, or devalue their votes.”