In the Rutland Herald Sept. 29 editorial (“Bringing shame”), the editor chastises the national and state Republican parties for bringing suit challenging the legality of recently-approved noncitizen voting in Winooski and Montpelier. I have been, and remain, a staunch defender of granting localities autonomy from legislative fiat and in this case, the Legislature supported the results of local referenda on the issue. But there are limits to what localities can do, and redefining the term “citizen” is certainly among them.

If Montpelier voters approved a charter change seeking to deny local voting rights to women, I expect the Herald would rightly condemn the effort and the Legislature reject the proposal by unanimous vote. After all, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution established the right of women to vote, and no locality can rescind that right, even if applied solely to local elections.

The Vermont Constitution states, “Every person of the full age of 18 years who is a citizen of the United States … shall be entitled to all the privileges of a voter of this state.” Likewise, the U.S. Constitution restricts voting rights to citizens. Citizenship means nothing if it ceases to be a prerequisite for suffrage.

The push from the left to allow noncitizen voting is part of a comprehensive effort to replace United States citizenship with global citizenship and as a result, repeal the protections of civil liberties granted by birthright and enumerated in the Constitution. The decision to surrender national sovereignty and open our southern border supports the same goal.

I have long advocated requiring high school students to attend a Naturalization Ceremony of immigrants. The power of the oath and emotions of these new Americans, their families and sponsors fill you with a new appreciation for your birthright. Every newcomer of age can earn the right to vote in all elections by simply becoming a citizen. If they are unwilling to pledge allegiance to the Constitution and laws of the United States, why would anyone want them to help decide our future?

The Herald editorial describes the legal challenge as an attack on voting and human rights. In truth, it is an effort to protect and preserve both.

Jeffrey Wennberg lives in Rutland.

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