Illegals Could Get Right to Vote in Conn. City

Thursday, 15 Dec 2011 04:08 PM

By Michelle Lopata

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Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola is disappointed by a mayor’s proposal to allow illegal immigrants in New Haven to vote in municipal elections, according to

Labriola is calling the voting proposal a “publicity stunt” and said while the Republican Party believes in “inclusiveness,” citizenship is a requirement for voting rights.

“In fact, the right to vote in free elections is still an issue that people in many other countries continue to fight and die for,” Labriola told “We support legal immigration and reasonable measures to provide a path to citizenship, but we don’t support providing rewards for illegal immigration.”

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano has said he does not think citizenship is an absolute requirement for acquiring the right to vote in local elections. The Democratic mayor said that illegal immigrants contribute to the community in their own ways by paying taxes indirectly through rent and sending their children to local schools, according to These actions, DeStefano believes, should give them the right to vote.

Elizabeth Benton, a spokeswoman for DeStefano, said the proposal is “nothing new.” More than two dozen states have seen similar legislation.

“We’re not seeking to apply this to any other city; this is about New Haven and what we think makes sense for New Haven,” Benton told “New Haven prides itself on being a diverse, welcoming community and part of what makes New Haven such an interesting place to live is our international residents.

“We want every adult in our community … to be able to vote in local elections that affect their families and futures,” she said. “This is not an immigration issue so much as a New Haven resident issue around participation in our community.”

DeStefano thinks the proposal will help make New Haven a more engaged community.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, on the other hand, said Wednesday that he was not “particularly comfortable” with the idea, according to

“I think there are obligations that run with citizenship and there are privileges that run with citizenship,” Malloy said.

However, Malloy, also a Democrat, said he was willing to “hear the mayor out” on his proposal, set to be delivered to state Legislature early next year.

Labriola was not as open-minded.

“Mayor DeStefano presides over a city in decline and one that already has a dubious record of voting integrity,” he told “The citizens of New Haven would be better served by a mayor who focused on jobs and economic development rather than a publicity stunt.”

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