Noncitizen Voting Rights in the Global Era: a Literature Review and Analysis

Today, people are moving from countryside to city, city to city, and country to country at one of the highest rates in human history. Globalization, poverty, war, persecution, and environmental crises—as well as the pursuit of safety and better economic opportunities—are propelling a mass migration of people from the Global South to the Global North. In response, some countries have limited immigration directly or restricted certain rights and privileges to discourage immigrants. Conversely, other countries have provided refuge and expanded pathways to rights and benefits out of altruism and humanity, economic self-interest, or both. As the pace of global migration has increased, the idea that political rights should follow or accompany immigrants has also grown and gained traction. Voting is one such right. Most countries typically limit voting rights to its citizens. However, during the past several decades, some have extended the franchise to noncitizen residents. In fact, at least forty-five countries presently allow noncitizen residents to vote in their local, regional, or even national elections. What is driving the expansion of noncitizen voting (NCV)? Where and to what ends are such policies being enacted? For this article, the authors conducted a systematic review to examine these questions and assess the implications of enfranchisement for advancing immigrant incorporation and democratic practice.

Dan Ferris, Ron Hayduk, Alyscia Richards, Emma Strauss Schubert, Mary Acri, Noncitizen Voting Rights in the Global Era: a Literature Review and Analysis, Journal of International Migration and Integration, 2019