PORTLAND – More than 5,000 petition signatures for a ballot initiative that would give noncitizens the right to vote in Portland’s city elections were submitted Wednesday to the city clerk.

The League of Young Voters submitted 5,110 signatures. The clerk’s office will work over the next 20 days to determine how many are valid.

To get its proposal on the ballot, the group needs at least 4,487 valid signatures — 20 percent of the number of Portland voters in the last gubernatorial election.

Will Everitt, state director for the League of Young Voters, said 35 volunteers collected the signatures. The campaign started March 22, shortly after the city’s Charter Commission voted 7-5 against a proposal to give voting rights to Portland residents who aren’t U.S. citizens.

The measure would extend voting rights only to legal residents of the U.S. Noncitizens would only be able to vote in city elections, not in state or federal elections.

Everitt said one-seventh of the city’s registered voters signed the petition.

“A lot of people thought it was a lot of common sense that people who are paying taxes and living here legally have a say at the local level,” he said.

Joceyln Bourgault, 23, a volunteer who collected nearly 400 signatures, mostly at the Portland Farmers Market, said a few people got angry when she explained the petition to them.

“When you piss people off, you know you are doing something good,” she said.

 

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at: [email protected]