The first effort by backers of noncitizen voting in Portland elections fell short of garnering enough valid signatures to get the measure on the ballot in November.

But a second shot has to turn up only 263 more people to sign the petition by Aug. 9. That’s hardly an insurmountable obstacle, considering the campaign turned in 4,224 valid signatures on July 14.

State law gives petitioners a 10-day grace period to make up the shortfall, and it would seem likely they could do it, giving Portlanders the option of a charter change on voting to accompany the one on an elected mayor that is already on the ballot.

However, the difference is that electing a mayor is the recommendation of the charter commission formed to study changes in the city’s basic law. The commissioners did not, however, endorse the idea of letting legal residents who were not U.S. citizens cast ballots in local races and referendums. They would not be allowed to participate in state or federal elections.

Not endorsing the proposal was a wise decision, and Portlanders should think hard about approving it if it qualifies for a Nov. 2 vote.

If voting in elections is such an important social objective, there already exists an established method to secure it: People who are not American citizens can apply for citizenship and gain all the rights, privileges and obligations that status carries with it.

The backers of this proposal could instead be spending their time and effort working with legal residents to meet the requirements of citizenship.

Instead, they are pursuing a goal that many Americans think waters down the franchise instead of improving it. Being a citizen should count for something, and voting is one of its principal characteristics.