Op-Ed: History of voting rights guides debate on Portland’s noncitizens

History reveals that who gets to vote and how much our votes matter have less to do with citizenship and more to do with who wields power and who is left disenfranchised. It’s a history of progress and the expansion of our body politic as we struggled with our collective conscience, and as our vision of what and who our representative democracy truly represents changed with the times.

Our immigrant neighbors rent apartments, own homes, pay property taxes, build businesses and create jobs. Decisions made by our city, whether in City Hall or at the ballot box, have as much of an effect on our immigrant neighbors as they do on the rest of us. I believe allowing them to have a say and weigh in on referendums and city elections is an important discussion to be had and that history should inform how we move forward as a community.