The strongest case for noncitizen voting today is representation: The more voters show up to the polls, the more accurately elections reflect peoples’ desires. The United States already has plenty of institutions that account for noncitizens: The census aims to reach all residents because it believes everyone, even aliens, matters. Corporations enjoy free speech and legal personhood — and they’re not even people. Would it be such a stretch to give a noncitizen resident a say in who gets elected to their state legislature, Congress or the White House?
What’s more, allowing noncitizens to vote in federal, state and municipal elections would help revitalize American democracy at a time when enthusiasm and trust are lacking. While 2020 was considered a “high turnout” election, only about 65 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. Compare that to Germany, where turnout was 76 percent in the last general election.
Democrats are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of this change — at least at first. But it could have interesting ripple effects: Elected Republicans might be induced to appeal to a more diverse constituency, or perhaps to enthuse their constituents so deeply that they too start to vote in greater numbers.