(WTNH) – A Connecticut state representative has proposed a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to vote in municipal and state elections.
The bill introduced proposes a state constitutional amendment concerning voting for certain residents of the state. This would allow the sixth article of the Constitution of the state to be amended and would allow undocumented immigrants living in Connecticut to vote in elections.
The proposal was brought forward by Democratic State Rep. Juan Candelaria who represents the 95th District.
According to migrationpolicy.org, there are currently over 240,000 non-citizen immigrants living in Connecticut.
“Everybody needs a voice in the Democratic process,” said State Rep. Juan Candelaria.
Candelaria says it needs to be a conversation in Connecticut.
“Allowing people who have been here for 20, 30 years to have a voice,” Candelaria said. “There’s going to be requirements. What I’m thinking in my mind is maybe five to ten years resident of the state, that you don’t have felonies.”
Carlos Layola moved to Connecticut from Chile more than three decades ago. He has never been able to vote.
“Right now, I can’t vote yet,” Layloa said.
Legislators are sharply divided over the proposal.
“It doesn’t even deserve a public hearing. It doesn’t even deserve a consideration,” said State Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco (R).
State Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco the ranking Republican on the Governor Administration and Elections Committee, which is where the bill was referred to. She says she has seen similar bills before but has never seen them get this attention.
“I personally think it’s outrageous that we would even have a conversation about having a non-citizen of this country vote in our local and state elections,” Mastrofranceso said.
Layola agrees. He’s in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. While it’s been a lengthy and difficult process, he says it’s crucial to be educated on Democracy.
“I do believe it’s a right that needs to be earned here as a citizen,” Layola said. “It gave me the opportunity to learn a little more about our history and I felt like by the time I was ready, I had a little skin in the game to be able to, so I feel like I have a right. Make my little voice heard wherever it counts.”
Layola expects to gain citizenship in a year or two.
A state court in Vermont endorsed a plan this week to allow non-citizens to vote in the City of Montpelier.
In Connecticut, the voting proposal could go to a public meeting later in the session.