New York City became the biggest American municipality to allow non-citizens voting rights in local elections. The city council, controlled by the Democrats, passed the ‘Our City, Our Vote’ measure. It was passed on Thursday in a vote of 33 to 14.
The noncitizen voting rights legislation was opposed by 10 Democrats and all the 4 Republican members with 2 members abstaining in a 51-member body.
Under this legislation, noncitizen voting rights have been given to individuals living in New York for 30 days and who happens to be legal permanent resident of America.
Noncitizen voting rights have also been given to individuals with workers’ permits, DACA holders, and green cardholders. They will be allowed to vote only in the New York City election, including, public advocate, mayor, city council, and borough president.
The main promoter of this legislation was Ydanis Rodriguez, Councilman, and a Dominican Republic immigrant. He said that the main issue was ensuring that a person who pays his taxes should have representation in at least the local elections.
He said that the Charter and the Constitution of the city always provide an opportunity to improve it further. They have succeeded in making an important change that would recognize the contribution of immigrants.
Several Members Opposed Noncitizen Voting Rights On Legal Grounds
Several members had opposed the move to allow noncitizen voting rights. They argued that there were legal issues to be considered. But the motion was overcome and the city council went ahead with the measure.
Democrats expressed concern that the Latino population would support the Republicans once noncitizen voting rights were granted.
New York City has a population of 800,000. Supporters of the bill say that the noncitizen voting rights measure is about allowing voting rights to all residents. Rodriguez said that this piece of legislation, which he termed as transformative, would ensure that everyone who lives in the city has a voice in the democratic process. The legislation will be effective from January 2023.