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New York State: Non-Citizens Granted Voting Rights in Local Elections

Published: December 15, 2021
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCT. 25: A vote sign is posted at an early voting site at a YMCA in Brooklyn on Oct. 25, 2021 in New York City. New York City Council has approved legislation that grants city residents who are not U.S. citizens the right to vote in local elections. (Image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In a controversial move New York City Council has passed legislation granting non-U.S. citizens the right to vote in local elections.

The bill passed with a vote of 33-14 on Thursday Dec. 9 by the Democrat council. The bill is now on its way to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio who, in the past, opposed the legislation but is not expected to veto it.  

Under the new law residents need only spend 30 consecutive days in the state and be a permanent resident or be authorized to work in the state in order to be eligible to vote. 

“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,’” a statement by the New York City Council reads. 

Non-citizens, who meet all other requirements under New York election law will be able to cast a 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.”

It’s estimated that the move will allow 800,000 non-citizens to vote.

Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez said that New York “will be kind of a role model not only for the state of New York, but for the whole nation,” while councilman Joseph Borelli lashed out at the legislation calling it “unconstitutional.” “There’s additional election law and municipal home rule law that we are seemingly going around to pass this bill, which everyone over the past several decades has called illegal,” Borelli said according to American Pigeon

New York State Senate candidate, Stefano Forte, believes that the City Council “made a big mistake” by granting non-citizens the ability to vote. “This is all one big power game to solidify single party rule by the Democrats in New York,” he said, adding that “this is blatantly unconstitutional.”

Forte argues that the Fifteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged…” and thus does not permit non-citizens to vote, while others argue that there is no explicit clause in the constitution that denies the right to vote, in state elections, to non-citizens. 

Under the new law non-citizens will be eligible to start registering to vote on Dec. 9, 2022.