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27 Jun, 2022 20:52

Court in US rules on letting non-citizens vote

The New York Supreme Court has invalidated a law allowing foreign nationals to vote in New York City elections
Court in US rules on letting non-citizens vote

The New York Supreme Court has struck down a law passed in January that would have given foreign nationals who had lived in New York City as little as 30 days the right to vote in local elections. In its decision on Monday, the court declared the law, which had been signed by incoming mayor Eric Adams just days after his inauguration, “illegal, null and void” because “it is clear…that voting is a right granted to citizens of the United States.”

The court’s decision granted a permanent injunction invalidating the law in response to a lawsuit filed by the New York State Republican Party, city council members from both parties, Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella, and several naturalized American citizens.

Set to take effect in January 2023, the law would have allowed over 800,000 non-citizens to vote in city elections. Immigrant advocates argued that because some of them paid taxes, they should have a say in their representation. However, voting by non-citizens is legally prohibited by the state constitution, and opponents of the bill noted it would massively influence local elections, which are often decided on the basis of a few thousand votes. One in nine of New York City's 7 million adult residents are legally documented voting-age non-citizens, potentially representing a truly massive slice of the electorate.

The decision comes less than a month before the Board of Elections was due to reveal its plan for a functional voter registration system for non-citizens that would have set them up with a city-wide voting ID without letting them also cast ballots in state and national elections – liberties even the city voting bill has not allowed so far.

While Adams and even his predecessor Bill de Blasio both felt uncomfortable granting non-citizens the right to vote, neither stepped up to address the issue. As the end of his term approached, De Blasio opted to kick the can down the road and let his successor deal with it, while Adams merely let the objection period in which he could have registered dissatisfaction with the law elapse. Despite his misgivings about about allowing foreign nationals to vote after just 30 days of residing in the city, he opted not to veto the bill.

Other states, including Florida, Colorado, Alabama, and Arizona, have passed laws preemptively to prevent similar legislative efforts from taking root.