Noncitizen voting rights: A survey of an emerging democratic norm

Published: 29/Août/2003
Source: American Political Science Association

By David C. Earnest

This paper surveys the practice of voting rights for resident aliens in the world today. It shows that although the practice is surprisingly widespread–from Europe to South America, to Australia and New Zealand–the specific institutions that each state has adopted vary considerably. Some states have enacted rights that discriminate on the basis of the resident alien’s nationality, others have nondiscriminatory rights, and some have moved from a discriminatory regime to a nondiscriminatory one. Some democracies allow resident aliens to vote only in local elections, while others permit resident aliens to vote in national or parliamentary elections. The paper proceeds to develop a typology of voting rights on the basis of two criteria–the discriminatory or nondiscriminatory nature of the right, and the type of election in which resident aliens may vote. I conclude the paper with a discussion of the implications of this typology for an investigation of the reasons why states have adopted voting rights for resident aliens.

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Themes: Nationalité et élections, Inscription aux listes électorales
Regions: International
Year: 2003