New York City lawmakers approved a historic measure on Thursday to grant hundreds of thousands of non-citizens the right to vote in local elections, setting the stage for a broader battle between supporters who want to expand immigrants’ voting rights and critics who think the move devalues citizenship.
The New measure, which will become law within 30 days if it’s not vetoed or earlier if the mayor signs it before then,More than 800,000. non-citizens will soon be eligible to vote. The law applies to legal permanent resident who has lived in the same city for more than 30 days consecutively and is a green card holder or authorized to work legally in the U.S. These residents will not be allowed to vote in federal and state elections.
New York City immigration advocates have rallied behind non-citizens to vote for many years.
New York City, which is the U.S. largest jurisdiction, will allow residents who are not citizens to vote in elections. This joins around a dozen other smaller communities and towns across the U.S. (including several in Maryland and Vermont). In addition to New York City, a few other large cities such as Washington D.C. or Portland, Maine have been considering similar changes.
New York City Councilman Ydanis Gonzalez, an immigrant of the Dominican Republic, supported the bill and became a U.S. citizen. Rodriguez hopes this measure will motivate people who are running for public office in the United States to be more attentive to the needs of immigrant communities.
“Anyone who would like to be elected for a citywide office will have to spend the same amount of time visiting those communities—not only to celebrate their culture by dancing and eating their food—but discussing their platforms and agendas,” Rodriguez says. “They will have to dedicate the same time in those working-class communities that they dedicate in middle- and upper-class communities.”
Rodriguez and other supporters of the measure are optimistic that New York’s move will encourage other cities to follow.
“When New York City does something, it ripples across the nation,” says Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “We want to make sure that what we’re doing here is really leading the way for others to also think about how they can enfranchise immigrants in their own cities.”
Joseph Borelli of the City Council, a minority leader, is among the opponents of the measure. They claim it reduces U.S. citizen’s voting rights. Borelli has asked whether voting should be made possible by paying taxes. He pointed out that tourists also pay sales and hotel occupancy tax. “I’m sure Democrats wouldn’t want to keep the standard for voting tax-paying,” he says. Borelli predicts legal problems will arise from the proposed measure.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio raised concern about whether the measure might discourage individuals from applying for citizenship. However, de Blasio stated last month that he wouldn’t veto it if it was passed.
Similar provisions have been rejected in parts of the nation. The Republican National Committee was formed in September. sued two Vermont towns for allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections, calling it a “radical scheme…to allow foreign citizens to decide American elections.” At least five state legislatures, including Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida and North Dakota, have taken steps to preempt any such provisions.
American citizens have voting rights Not all were tied to citizenship. FSince the foundation of the Country until 1926, 40 states allowed non-citizens to vote at various times throughout America’s history, some of them not just in local elections but state and federal ones, too.
Ron Hayduk (a San Francisco State University professor of political science and author of The Voting Rights of African Americans) says that the question of who is eligible to vote has evolved over time. He points out that this includes women, African Americans and young voters. Democracy for All: Restoring Immigrant voting rights in the United States “You can think of democracy as an evolving practice,” he says.
New York City’s vast expansion of residents’ voting rights comes at the tail end of a year marked by a Several restrictions on votingLegislative bodies from all over the country passed it. Hayduk says the city’s move puts the issue of who gets to participate in American democracy on the national agenda in a new and unprecedented way.
“For New York City to do this really draws our attention to these questions: How do we think about democracy? Who’s included? Who’s excluded?” Hayduk says. New York’s decision “really firmly says, ‘Hey, we are an immigrant city, these are real New Yorkers and we want to make immigrant rights real by giving them a real voice.’”
Eva Santos is a mother to three children and DACA recipient. She immigrated from Dominican Republic. This measure makes her feel more recognized for being a New York City resident, who has to file taxes and is entitled to a voice in the running of the city.
“All of my children were born in New York City,” Santos says. “I want to be able to help elect representatives who will make decisions that have my children’s futures, their safety, and their best interest at heart, just like any parent who is a U.S. citizen would.”