New York City lawmakers want to make the Big Apple the largest municipality in the country to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections.
A bill known as “Our City, Our Vote” would extend that right to more than 800,000 people who are green card holders or have the legal right to work in the U.S., The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Alabama, Colorado, and Florida passed legislation last year specifying that only U.S. citizens could vote. Arizona and North Dakota also do not allow noncitizens to vote in state and local elections.
“In the so-called blue states, we are moving toward expansion and that includes expansion of noncitizen voting,” Joshua A. Douglas, a professor at the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law, told the Times.
“In the so-called red places, you are moving toward more constrictions on the right to vote, which includes noncitizens. The whole world of voting rights has become one that is more polarized, even more than normal.”
The New York City bill is expected to be approved Dec. 9 by the city council. Mayor-elect Eric Adams has said he supports the legislation.
“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,” said Democrat Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez.
Not all city progressive are on board, however. Outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio said the voting law “has to be decided at state level, according to state law,” during a recent radio appearance, the Times said.
In saying he had “mixed feelings” about the bill, de Blasio added that allowing noncitizens to vote might lessen the desire to become full citizens.
Proponents insist the bill is legal. They add it’s important to expand municipal voting to people who reside legally in the country and pay taxes but don’t have citizenship.
“Any restrictions that are currently on the books really only apply to federal and state elections,” said Anu Joshi, the vice president of policy at the New York Immigration Coalition.
The estimated 808,000 adult New Yorkers who are lawful permanent residents, green card holders, or have work authorization include about 130,000 from the Dominican Republic and 117,500 people from China, according to the mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.