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Resident aliens welcomed to the polls in Newton

Posted by Ralph Ranalli February 25, 2007 07:13 AM

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Ward 3 Alderman-at-large Ted Hess-Mahan

NEWTON

What a difference two years makes, at least for resident aliens in Newton.

Last week, by a large majority, the city's aldermen approved a measure allowing immigrants who are not US citizens the right to vote in local elections. Two years ago, a similar proposal was defeated.

The measure's sponsor Ward 3 Alderman-at-large Ted Hess-Mahan said he believes itís only fair that residents who pay taxes, send their kids to school, and own property in Newton should also be able to vote on measures that affect them.

Hess-Mahanís proposal would authorize the cityís Election Commission to create a register of qualified permanent resident alien voters. Resident aliens would have to sign registration forms including a sworn declaration that they live in Newton, are lawfully admitted to the US, and intend to become citizens, if eligible. Registered resident aliens would be able to vote only in local Ė but not state or federal Ė elections.

Mayor David Cohen must now ask the cityís legislative delegation to file the proposal with the state legislature, which must approve it as a home rule measure for it to go into effect. Hess-Mahan said Cambridge, Amherst, and Wayland are also seeking state approval for similar measures.

-- Connie Paige

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