Non-Citizens Voting in New York

The mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, has recently passed a bill that will allow non-citizens to be able to vote in municipal elections. This would include elections for mayor and city council members. However, this bill does not allow them to vote in state or federal elections. 

“I look forward to bringing millions more into the democratic process,” the mayor stated in an interview conducted by the New York Times. 

While only legal residents are being allowed to vote, many believe this is a significant step forward for more immigrant participation in American politics. Dreamers, who were children who came to the country illegally with their parents at a young age, are also being included in this new measure. 

New York is not the first city to implement this type of legislation into their local government; it has already been implemented at a smaller scale in local elections in cities in Vermont and Maryland. Nevertheless, because of New York City’s large population and reputation, the bill has led to controversy.

Many critics of the bill argue that it will cause a loss of motivation for immigrants to become full citizens if they are being given the right to vote for simply living in the country. Furthermore, many Americans believe that elections should be exclusive to citizens and granting non-citizens this right takes away the substance of being a citizen of the United States. 

The Republican National Committee had a similar justification when they sued the mayor, the city’s Board of Elections, and the City council claiming that the new law was unconstitutional.  

The Committee similarly filed lawsuits in response to the passing of non-citizen voting policy in Vermont and Maryland. The chairwomen of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel stated “American elections should be decided by American citizens”. 

The new bill only requires that a person live in the city for thirty days before they are allowed to vote. This aspect of the law was a point of contention as Mayor Adams feared the period of time was too short. He was eventually convinced nevertheless as he did not end up vetoing the bill which will allow it to go into effect on Sept. 9, 2023. 

The news of non-citizens voting in New York City has created many disputes. Despite differing opinions on the matter, it raises the question if similar legislation will be on the rise in other states.