State Watch

New York City Council expected to vote on measure to give noncitizens voting rights


The New York City Council is expected to approve a measure later this week that will give noncitizens the right to vote in local elections.

The measure, if approved by the City Council and signed into law by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), would allow individuals who have been lawful permanent residents of the Big Apple for at least 30 days to cast ballots in elections for mayor, city council members, borough presidents, comptroller and public advocate, according to The Associated Press.

They will not, however, be allowed to take part in elections for governor, state judges or state legislators.

The measure also covers individuals who have been authorized to work in the U.S. and undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, who are referred to as “dreamers,” according to the AP.

If the bill is passed and signed into law the city’s Board of Elections will be tasked with creating an implementation roadmap by July. The plan has to include regulations for voter registration and terms that call for establishing different ballots for municipal races, that way noncitizens authorized to vote in local races will not be able to take part in federal and state elections, according to the AP.

Still, however, noncitizens would not be permitted to vote in the city until 2023, the AP noted.

The measure, which is expected to pass through the City Council on Thursday, would grant voting rights to roughly 800,000 noncitizens, according to the AP.

De Blasio has aired concerns with the bill but said he does not intend to veto it.

During a news conference last month he said she still has “reservations” regarding the legislation, pointing to the value of citizenship and wanting to encourage individuals to seek full citizenship. He also said it remains unclear if such a policy can be implemented on the local level.

The mayor added, however, that he does not plan to veto the bill.

“So, we’ll look at the legislation, respect the Council, this is something that councils decided to do, it’s a democracy. Certainly not something I would be intending to veto, but it’s also something I’m not sure is the right way to go about this,” de Blasio said.

Some Republicans, however, are opposed to the measure, arguing that it takes away from the importance of citizenship.

“It devalues citizenship, and citizenship is the standard by which the state constitution issues or allows for suffrage in New York state elections at all levels,” City Council Minority Leader Joseph Borelli (R) said, according to the AP.

More than 10 areas throughout the U.S. permit noncitizens to vote, according to the AP, including communities in Maryland and Vermont.

Tags Bill de Blasio immigrants New York New York City

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