The Multnomah County Charter Review Committee has approved language that would amend the county's charter to allow voting by people who aren't U.S. citizens.
The committee's vote Tuesday, July 5, to approve language for the proposed charter change was its last procedural step on the issue.
Voters will be asked to weigh in on whether the county should expand voting access to more groups, including "noncitizens," on the November ballot.
The controversial proposal has garnered support from immigrant rights advocates and legal scholars who argue all people affected by local laws should have a voice in the political system. They add that noncitizens contribute to state and local taxes.
If approved by voters, the charter change would direct county staff to extend the right to vote for county measures and officers "to the fullest extent allowed by law," according to the approved language.
Every six years, the county convenes a charter review committee, comprising 16 members, that reviews the county's charter and recommends changes.
The vote Tuesday was one of several as the committee nears its Aug. 4 deadline to present all of its recommended charter changes to the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners.
The committee approved language to amend the charter to include gender-neutral terms.
It also advanced other proposed charter changes, including:
• Establishing ranked-choice voting in Multnomah County elections by 2026.
• Changing future charter review committees' timeline, public engagement and member selection process.
• Codifying the county's Good Government Hotline.
• Requiring timely access to records and information by Multnomah County Auditor and including "right to audit" clauses in contracts.
• Establishing a county ombudsman's office.
• Requiring county board members to increase inspections of county jails with the participation of constituents.
The committee is expected to vote at its meeting July 20 on specific charter language for the changes it advanced Tuesday.
After the board hears the committee's final recommendations, the county must resolve any ballot title challenge by Sept. 8 for the charter changes to appear on the ballot for the Nov. 8 election.
To learn more about the charter review committee's recommendations or attend their meetings, click here.
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