NYC may soon let 800,000 non-US citizens vote
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New York City may soon permit hundreds of thousands of noncitizens to vote in municipal elections, while Mayor Bill de Blasio and his successor, Eric Adams, feel differently about the prospect.
The bill aims to amend the city’s charter by including a new chapter with provisions for allowing green card holders and those with work authorization to register to vote and take part in citywide elections through the creation of a separate municipal voter registration. Adams supported the concept when he was campaigning for mayor earlier this year.
“We cannot be a beacon to the world and continue to attract the global talent, energy and entrepreneurship that has allowed our city to thrive for centuries if we do not give immigrants a vote in how this city is run and what our priorities are for the future,” Adams said in February, according to the New York Daily News.
A Board of Election official opens the voting machine after Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa’s ballot got stuck at a polling place on the Upper West Side on Nov. 2, 2021, in New York City.
(Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)
De Blasio, meanwhile, said on “The Brian Lehrer Show” in September that there are “two problems” with the bill.
“One, I don’t believe it is legal. Our law department is very clear on this,” the mayor said. “I really believe this has to be decided at the state level, according to state law.”
The other issue, he said, is that it undermines efforts to get people to become citizens.
“I think there’s a real set of mixed feelings it generates in me about what’s the right way to approach this issue,” he said.
The New York Times reports that the bill would allow an estimated 808,000 noncitizens to vote.
Brooklyn Borough President and New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams listens as President Biden speaks during a meeting on reducing gun violence, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Monday, July 12, 2021, in Washington.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
The bill says residents must be living in the city for at least 30 days prior to an election. It also specifies that it only applies to municipal elections and calls for a separate form of voter registration to reflect that.
“Nothing in this chapter shall be construed so as to confer upon municipal voters the right to vote for any state or federal office or on any state or federal ballot question,” the bill says.
Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio speaks during the opening of a vaccination center for Broadway workers in Times Square on April 12, 2021, in New York City.
(Noam Galai/Getty Images)
That difference is what leads Anu Joshi, the vice president of policy at the New York Immigration Coalition, to believe the bill would stand up to a legal challenge, despite de Blasio’s concerns.
“Any restrictions that are currently on the books really only apply to federal and state elections,” Joshi told the Times.
The bill is next scheduled for a vote by the city council on Dec. 9.
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