Chris Lieberman, FISM News
The New York City Council passed a bill on Thursday that would allow noncitizens the right to vote in municipal elections.
The “Our City, Our Vote” bill, as previously reported by FISM, would extend voting privileges to about 800,000 green card holders, DACA recipients, and those with working permits in city elections. Noncitizens will still not be able to vote in state or federal elections.
The measure passed the city council by a vote of 33-14, just one vote shy of a veto-proof majority. Outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has expressed concerns about the bill, has indicated that he will sign the measure into law.
BREAKING: The @NYCCouncil just passed the historic #OurCityOurVote legislation granting eligible lawful permanent residents in New York City the right to vote in municipal elections, paving the way to make New York City the largest city in the country to do so.
— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) December 9, 2021
One of the biggest obstacles to the bill’s passage was the 30-day residency requirement, with Republicans and some Democrats arguing that the period is too short. Council Member Paul Vallone (D) said, “Thirty days is not enough for someone to decide who’s going to represent the greatest city in the world.” The bill was nearly sent back to committee to extend the residency requirement before ultimately passing as is.
Noncitizens will be able to register to vote starting Dec. 9, 2022, with New York’s next municipal elections set to take place in 2023. During elections, noncitizen voters will receive a separate ballot from citizens, which will not include state and federal offices.
Republicans in New York and beyond were quick to condemn the bill, threatening legal action to prevent it from being implemented. NYGOP Chairman Nick Langworthy said in a statement:
Today’s irresponsible vote by New York City Democrats to give the sacred right to vote to over 800,000 non-citizens is a dangerous attack on our election integrity. We are now on a slippery slope toward illegal immigrants voting and foreign interference in our elections. We will fight, using every legal means necessary, to prevent this legislation from becoming law.
“American citizens should decide American elections – full stop,” said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel in a statement. “Today’s decision in New York is the product of a radical, power-hungry Democrat Party that will stop at nothing to undermine election integrity. Allowing our elections to be decided by foreign citizens is unacceptable, and the RNC is looking closely at our legal options as we continue our fight to protect your ballot.”
Advocates for the bill say that those who pay their taxes, send their kids to school, and rely on public services in New York City should have a say in how the city is run. Councilmember Margaret Chin said, “This bill is taxation with representation.”
“This is set to be a transformative piece of legislation that will really ensure that all New Yorkers – noncitizen New Yorkers who live here, who are raising children here, who shop in our stores, who own small businesses – the opportunity to have a say in our democracy,” said Anu Joshi, vice president of policy at New York Immigrant Coalition.
However, in addition to questioning the legality of the bill, opponents argue that noncitizen voting will dilute the voice of citizens and remove the incentive for immigrants to seek citizenship. “If [noncitizens] want to vote here, they should go through the process of becoming citizens, because that is how you show a real commitment to being a part of this city and this country,” said Council Minority Leader Borelli in a press conference.
Once the bill is signed into law, New York City will become the 14th and the largest municipality in the country to allow noncitizen voting.