“Political Rights in the Age of Migration: The Case for Immigrant Voting”

Friday, July 14, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - G466 (University of Glasgow)
Ron Hayduk , Political Science, San Francisco State University
International migration challenges notions of citizenship as migrants retain or regain their right to vote in the elections in certain polities. During the past decades, forty-five countries have granted voting rights to noncitizen residents in local, regional and even national elections. These developments have important implications for democratic theory and practice.  

This paper examines and compares immigrant voting rights campaigns and practices in the US and Europe.  In some campaigns, immigrant rights organizations spearheaded initiatives while other campaigns were led by elected officials. Some campaigns provide voting rights only to documented ("legal") immigrants while other campaigns extend voting rights to all noncitizens regardless of status. Some measures were passed -- or defeated -- by a majority of the voters in a jurisdiction while other measures were passed – or defeated -- by elected representatives as statutes.  Similarly, the impacts of immigrant voting practices has produced mixed results, according to various academic and policy analysts.  

What factors as associated with contemporary immigrant voting rights campaigns and practices?  What are their key features?  What accounts for their success or failure?  Who are the proponents and opponents of immigrant voting rights and what are their arguments for and against immigrant voting?  What implications does immigrant voting have for advancing immigrant integration in democratic polities?  Using a mix of quantitative and qualitative data gathered from field research and public records over the past 12 years, this paper explores these questions regarding the U.S. and Europe, and their implications for democratic theory and practice.