New York City is on the verge of allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections.
The bill, named “Our City, Our Vote,” would allow more than 800,000 noncitizen New Yorkers to vote, according to The New York Times. These are New York residents who have green cards or the legal right to work in the United States but have not been able to vote on local and municipal issues because they do not have citizenship.
The City Council likely will approve the bill on Dec. 9, the Times reported.
The explanation behind the bill is that there are nearly 1 million residents who live or have lived in the city for a long time but have never had a say in the city’s direction.
“These New York City residents live here, work here, go to school here, and are raising families here, but despite paying billions of dollars in taxes every year, they have no vote on the direction of our city,” reads the website explaining the movement behind the bill.
So those who are green-card holders or have authorization to work in the U.S. and have been a resident of New York City for at least 30 days are eligible to vote in the elections for city-level offices.
This legislation has been in the works for some time. The City Council held a hearing on the bill in September.
“We need to recognize the contributions of our immigrant brothers and sisters. This is not about doing a favor to immigrants by allowing them to vote,” Spectrum News reported Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez as saying at the hearing. “If they pay their taxes, as I did when I had my green card, then they should have a right to elect their local leaders.
“It’s important for the Democratic Party to look at New York City and see that when voting rights are being attacked, we are expanding voter participation,” Rodriguez added, according to the Times.
The bill also has the support of the new mayor-elect, Democrat Eric Adams, Newsweek reported.
“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.
He added that it’s “our moral and democratic responsibility to enfranchise tax-paying, hard-working legal immigrants and give them the voice they deserve.”
This legislation comes in the midst of national tensions that have arisen over voting rights. In 2020, Colorado, Florida and Alabama passed ballot measures saying that only U.S. citizens will be allowed to vote, according to the Times.
Now, New York City is moving closer to doing the opposite.
The New York initiative has strong support from immigrant groups that say they are being underrepresented since they reside legally and pay taxes but have no say in the city’s policies.
“This is taxation without representation, which stands contrary to the very principles on which our country was founded,” Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz said, according to Spectrum News.
If the legislation does pass, the voting forms for noncitizens will be different, according to the Times.
“The New York City Board of Elections would issue a separate voter registration form for green-card holders and other noncitizens who have the right to work. At the polls, those voters would fill out a ballot that only has New York City offices on it,” the Times reported.
Most assume the legislation will pass easily since there is broad support for it among the City Council and the community.
“Immigrants have always been vital to the city, and during COVID they risked their lives to keep the city moving,” said Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.
“This comes down to nook-and-cranny issues like trash and how the budget is spent. These are things our community members have strong opinions about.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.