October 18, 2018
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Portland board endorses referendum to give voting rights to noncitizens

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Portland City Hall.

After hearing from more than dozen parents and students Tuesday night, the Portland Board of Education narrowly passed a resolution supporting a potential voter referendum that would allow legal noncitizen residents to vote in the city’s local elections.

The proposal from Portland Councilor Pious Ali and Mayor Ethan Strimling would make Portland the first city in the state to allow noncitizens to vote.

[Maine mayor renews push to give local voting rights to noncitizens]

On Tuesday, many students and parents from the city’s immigrant communities came out in force to speak on the proposal. Parent Rodento Biacho told the board that he and other parents wanted a to elect the representatives shaping his children’s education.

“We want to participate in every election. Every vote,” Biacho said. “As parents, it’s our right to know what’s happening with our children in the schools.”

The majority of the school board supported the resolution. But others were concerned, saying the school board shouldn’t be involved in the issue and that the legality of such a measure was still uncertain.

The referendum still needs to be passed by the Portland City Council next week before going to the city’s voters in the fall.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.

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