NYC’s Non-Citizen Voting Law Struck Down By Appeals Court

By TYLER DURDEN – Zerohedge

New York City’s law that lets non-citizens vote in local elections hit a brick wall on Wednesday, as a state appeals court ruled it violates the state’s constitution. Approved in Dec. 2021 by a 33-14 city council vote, the controversial law had not yet been put into practice, owing to an injunction imposed in 2022 by a lower court on Staten Island. 

“We determine that this local law was enacted in violation of the New York State Constitution and Municipal Home Rule Law, and thus, must be declared null and void,” wrote Appellate Judge Paul Wooten in the 43-page ruling.

The measure would have allowed approximately 800,000 non-citizens to vote in city elections. The law limited that new privilege to permanent legal residents of the United States, and those with federal work authorization. Republican party officials quickly sued, arguing the city was acting beyond its authority. On Wednesday, the New York appeals court upheld the 2022 ruling.

A demonstrator at a 2021 New York City rally promoting non-citizen voting (Eduardo Munoz via Reuters)

“I won baby, I won,” Staten Island Republican and NY City Council GOP Leader Joe Borelli told Politico in an interview from Israel, where he and other officials are surveying the damage from the Oct 7 Hamas invasion (that may be irrelevant to the needs of Staten Islanders, but treating Israel like America’s 51st state is highly relevant to his aspirations for higher office.) “This was an easy case. All they had to do was read the state constitution and municipal law.”

Indeed, the New York State Constitution says:

“Every citizen shall be entitled to vote at every election for all officers elected by the people . . . provided that such citizen is eighteen years of age or over and shall have been a resident of this state, and of the county, city, or village for thirty days next preceding an election”

The appeals court, which ruled in Republicans’ favor by a 3-1 margin, said the constitution’s “plain language” provides voting rights “exclusively to ‘citizen[s],’ as there is no reference to non-citizens.” It also said that New York’s Municipal Home Rule Law requires that such a change to election law requires a voter referendum, not a local council vote.

As mayor-elect, Eric Adams had expressed his own doubts about whether city council had the power to change voting eligibility.  His administration has nonetheless attempted to defend the case, but is now 0-2. As yet, there’s been no comment on the question of whether the city will throw more taxpayer money out the window by appealing the case to New York’s supreme court.

A group that promotes non-citizen voting quickly condemned the decision. “The lawsuit remains another shameful attempt by xenophobic Republicans who would disenfranchise residents rather than promote a more inclusive and participatory democracy,” said New York Immigration Council Executive Director Murad Awawdeh.

However, a growing number of non-Republicans also find non-citizen voting unsettling, like this Chicago man…

Washington DC and Burlington, Vermont are just a few other cities that have authorized non-citizens to vote in local elections. San Francisco allows them to vote in school board races and, last week, appointed a non-citizen to the city commission that oversees elections. In 2020, a referendum enabled non-citizens to serve on the city’s boards and commissions.

Whether New York City appeals Wednesday’s ruling or not, expect the push for non-citizen voting to continue, in New York and all across the country.

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