New York lawmakers pass bill giving non-citizens the right to vote

NEW YORK (AP) – Non-citizens of New York City would be granted the right to vote in municipal elections under a measure approved by city council on Thursday that would give access to the ballot boxes to 800,000 green card holders and to the so-called Dreamers.

Only a potential veto from Mayor Bill de Blasio prevented the measure from becoming law, but the Democrat said he would not veto it. It is not clear whether the bill could be subject to legal challenges.

The Council’s vote was a historic moment for a long-languishing effort.

City councilor Francisco Moya, whose family is from Ecuador, suffocated as he spoke in favor of the bill.

“It’s for my mother-in-law who will be able to vote for her son,” Moya said, while joining the video session with her immigrant mother by her side.

More than a dozen communities across the United States already allow non-citizens to vote in local elections, including 11 cities in Maryland and two in Vermont. But New York is by far the greatest place to give the vote to non-citizens.

Non-citizens still couldn’t vote for president or members of Congress in federal races, or in state elections that choose governor, judges, and lawmakers.

The city’s move could ignite the national debate over voting rights, especially among those who mistakenly claim that widespread fraud by non-citizens took place in the federal election.

Last year, Alabama, Colorado and Florida passed rules that would prevent any attempts to pass laws like New York’s. Arizona and North Dakota already had bans on the books.

“The bill we are making today will have national repercussions,” said Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, a Democrat who opposed the bill. She expressed concern that the measure could decrease the influence of African-American voters.

Legally documented, non-citizens of voting age represent nearly one in nine of the city’s 7 million voting age residents. The measure would allow non-citizens who have been legal permanent residents of the city for at least 30 days, as well as those authorized to work in the United States, including so-called “dreamers,” to help select. the mayor of the city, members of the municipal council, district presidents, controller and public defender.

“It’s no secret we are making history today. 50 years later, when our children look back, they will see a diverse coalition of advocates who have come together to write a new chapter in New York City history by empowering New York immigrants to vote ” , Ydanis Rodriguez, member of the board. , one of the bill’s main sponsors, said in a statement after Thursday’s vote.

The law would direct the Council of Elections to develop an implementation plan by July, including voter registration rules and provisions that would create separate ballots for municipal races to prevent non-voting. -citizens to vote in federal and state contests. Non-citizens would not be allowed to vote until the 2023 election.

Even if de Blasio decided to veto the bill, there was enough support to overturn it. The measure would become law by default if the mayor decided not to act on it. Incoming mayor Eric Adams has said he supports the bill.

Republican leader Joseph Borelli said a legal challenge was likely. Opponents say the council does not have the power on its own to grant the right to vote to non-citizens and should have sought action from state lawmakers first.

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