Largest US city grants non-citizens voting rights
The New York City Council has approved legislation to give city residents who are not US citizens the right to vote in local elections – a move which could permanently alter New York politics.
The controversial bill passed New York City’s overwhelmingly Democrat council by 33-14 on Thursday, meaning it will now be sent to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has expressed opposition to the proposed changes but is not expected to veto them.
In a statement, the council said that New York City is “proudly home to millions of working, taxpaying immigrants” who are not yet US citizens and therefore “have no power at the ballot box to determine who represents them.”
“Under this bill, any New Yorker who is a lawful permanent resident or authorized to work in the United States, who has been a resident of New York City for at least 30 consecutive days, and who meets all the qualifications for registering to vote under the Election Law other than US citizenship, would be eligible to register to vote as a ‘municipal voter,’” the council explained.
The bill will allow non-citizen residents of the city “to vote in any primary, special, general, or run-off election for Mayor, Comptroller, Public Advocate, Borough President, or Council Member, as well as on any local ballot initiative.” But it will not allow non-citizens to participate in federal or state elections.
According to the council, if the bill is implemented, over 800,000 non-citizens will be able to register to vote from December next year and subsequently vote in elections as soon as January 2023.
It is likely that the bill will be implemented, as Mayor de Blasio has stated that he would not veto the bill if passed despite his own objections.
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez – the sponsor of the bill – told the New York Times that politicians who “are looking to get elected to office will now have to spend the same amount of time in the communities affected by this legislation as they do in upper-class neighborhoods.”
Critics, however, have argued that only US citizens should be able to vote as they have a higher stake in the country.
Similar bills and amendments have been passed in other cities, including San Francisco; however, New York City would be the largest.