The final barrier to a New York City bill that would allow noncitizens to vote in its local elections has been removed after Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose term ends on Jan. 1, said he would not veto the legislation if the city council votes it through before the end of the year, Politico reported on Wednesday.
The passage of the bill next month is looking likely, as the council on Tuesday announced a supermajority of supporters for the bill set to be voted on Dec. 9.
The legislation would permit legal permanent residents or those legally authorized to work in the United States who have lived in New York City for at least 30 consecutive days — some 800,000 people — to vote in city elections, according to NY1.
This would include elections for mayor, comptroller, public advocate, borough president, city council, and any city ballot initiative, although it would not affect state or federal elections.
New York would be the largest city in the country to pass such a bill, although smaller towns in Maryland and Vermont already allow noncitizens some local voting rights, Politico reported. Additional cities in California, Maine, Illinois, and Massachusetts are considering similar legislation.
Other states, however, have gone the opposite direction, with Alabama, Colorado, and Florida having passed ballot measures ensuring that only citizens can vote.
Mayor-elect Eric Adams has said he backs the bill, telling the New York Daily News earlier this year that “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.”
But de Blasio said at a news conference on Tuesday that he was only recently made aware of the council’s desire to bring the bill up for a vote before the end of the year.
“This is something the council has decided to do,” he said. “It’s a democracy — certainly not something I’d be intending to veto, but it’s also not something I’m sure is the right way to go about this.”
De Blasio also emphasized his belief that he has expressed before that only state lawmakers are empowered to pass such a bill, the New York Post reported.