Prof. Alan Kennedy, lecturer of Public Policy, recently had his article, “Voters in a Foreign Land: Alien Suffrage in the United States, 1704-1926,” published in the Journal of Policy History. By evaluating the evolution of American suffrage and citizenship, Prof. Kennedy reveals how formalized suffrage without citizenship varied in different U.S. regions throughout history and was linked to economic expansion, race, gender, and class. As you can see below in Figure 2 from the article, Prof. Kennedy documented fascinating policy changes in U.S. states and territories over time. The figure shows that the existence of alien suffrage was a common occurrence in many states during the 1700-1800s, before declining sharply in the early 1900s.
Overall, Prof. Kennedy concludes that noncitizen voting should continue to be considered, as the meanings of citizenship and suffrage vary based on views of immigrants, women, and people of color. Understanding the history of noncitizen voting within the United States and its connection to immigration policy, economic history, and racial and gender discrimination, can help shape future policy debates.
W&M Public Policy congratulates Prof. Kennedy on his publication! More information about the article is here.