New York City Council approves extending local voting rights to over 800,000 non-citizens

New York, New York – The New York City Council on Thursday approved a measure that would extend the right to vote in municipal elections to legal residents without US citizenship.

The New York City Council approved granting voting rights to more than 800,000 non-citizen residents as of January 9, 2023.
The New York City Council approved granting voting rights to more than 800,000 non-citizen residents as of January 9, 2023.  © IMAGO / Levine-Roberts

According to the New York Times, the legislation grants legal residents, including green card holders and those with work permits, the right to vote in local elections, starting January 9, 2023.

The law is expected to impact more than 800,000 New York City residents.

The new rules would apply to eligible people who have lived in the city for at least 30 days.

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Non-citizens would still be barred from participating in state and federal elections.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who did not outright support the bill, said he would not veto it if it reaches his desk. If he fails to sign the bill within 30 days, it will automatically become law.

DeBlasio explained his lukewarm position by saying that it is not within the city's rights to grant non-citizens the ability to vote, saying that decision must come from the state government.

But many disagree with the mayor's assessment, especially as other towns in Vermont and Maryland already grant non-citizens municipal voting rights. Plus, the New York State Constitution does not explicitly ban non-citizens from getting the ability to vote.

Mayor-elect Eric Adams says he supports the measure but is also unsure whether it's within the city government's power to enact it.

Adams' spokesperson said the new mayor will examine the legislation once he takes office.

Supporters praise the bill for allowing tax-paying members of the community to have a say in local decisions that impact their everyday lives.

Nevertheless, there is already talk that the bill could soon face a legal challenge.

Cover photo: IMAGO / Levine-Roberts

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