Wait your turn to vote

Voting should be for citizens only
By SHAY STEWART-BOULEY  |  August 18, 2010

Immigrants are fantastic. I think they bring diversity, new vibes, an

READ: "Immigrant voting heads for the ballot," by Deirdre Fulton
d new energy. They often bring restaurant cuisine to the state that I require to maintain my sanity. They keep the so-called "melting pot" of the United States stirring, so that things don't get burned, gloppy, or too crunchy. I don't even have a beef with illegal immigrants many times, as I understand the reasons they come, they contribute to the economy, and many of the jobs they are willing to do are ones that not even unemployed citizens want. So, whether here legitimately or not, I don't have any grudge with immigrants.

But they shouldn't be in the voting booth.

Not even the legal immigrants.

If that seems mean of me, I'm sorry. Well, actually, I'm not. Voting is something that citizens get to do. If you aren't a citizen and want to vote, then apply for citizenship. If you are awaiting citizenship and want to vote, wait until you are official.


I can't even conceive of the kind of hubris that would make me move to some other nation, as a visitor or hopeful citizen and say, "I'm not a citizen yet, but I demand a say in the political process of your nation, in which I am not yet fully vested."

In the end, I could simply say, "Rules are rules." You see, there are guidelines and standards, and they include two key things: age and citizenship. The first implies you are mature enough to vote. The second assumes that you have a stake as a fully realized resident.

Of course, some people don't see it that way, and so on the ballot this November in Portland will be a proposed charter amendment to allow immigrants to vote in municipal elections with proof of identity, age, residency, and legal status.

Among the arguments in favor of making this change is that a minimum of three years, and often five, is required for non-citizen legal immigrants to begin the citizen application process. During that period, though, they are expected to pay taxes but cannot vote, which prompted Mohammed Dini, a Somali immigrant who has become a US citizen, to note in a recent Portland Press Herald article that "The principle of our petition is that same that founders of this country believed — 'no taxation without representation.'"

That sounds nice, and evokes lofty ideals. But what about the concept of "Wait your turn?" It seems to me that if you are willing to go through the process of becoming a citizen, you should be able to wait until that process is done to vote. Were I the kind of person who wintered in Arizona or Florida as a snowbird, I should not expect to vote there unless and until I establish residency and spent most of my time there. Until that point, I'm still an outsider. That doesn't mean I'm unimportant. It doesn't mean I don't have valuable input and opinions.

But it does mean that I haven't yet earned the right to have a hand in making changes to the community in which I live.

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