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State Appeals Court Strikes Down New York City Law Allowing Non-Citizens To Vote

Court ruled the law violates the state's constitution

State Appeals Court Strikes Down New York City Law Allowing Non-Citizens To Vote

The New York State Supreme Court's Appellate Division has struck down a contentious law that sought to allow non-citizens the right to vote in municipal elections, ruling that the legislation is unconstitutional.

Originally passed two years ago, the New York City law created a new class of voters called “municipal voters” who would be entitled to vote in elections for the offices of mayor, public advocate, comptroller, borough president, and council member.

The term “municipal voter” means an individual who is not a U.S. citizen on the date of the election, and who meets certain other criteria — being lawful permanent residents of the city for at least 30 days, as well as people reauthorized to work in the U.S., which includes people remaining in the U.S. under the DACA program.

As stated in the court’s 3-1 decision, “This case concerns the validity of Local Law No. 11 (2022) of City of New York, which created a new class of voters eligible to vote in municipal elections consisting of individuals who are not United States citizens and who meet certain enumerated criteria.”

Associate Justice Paul Wooten, who wrote the appeals court decision, continued: “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.”

The bill had been submitted to former Mayor Bill de Blasio, who declined to sign or veto it before leaving office at the end of 2021. In January 2022, his successor, Mayor Eric Adams, also declined to sign or veto the bill, which allows the bill to become law automatically after 30 days.

The ruling was celebrated by Republican lawmakers who brought the legal action.

“Great news! We won in the appellate court and [Adams’] attempt to implement the law to register noncitizens to vote in #NYC elections has been struck down,” Nicole Malliotakis, a U.S. Congresswoman for Brooklyn, wrote in a post on X. “This is a big victory in preserving both the integrity of our elections & the voice of American citizens!”

Council Republican leader Joe Borelli said in an interview with POLITICO, “I won baby, I won.”

He added, “This was an easy case. All they had to do was read the state constitution and municipal law. The criticism falls on the proponents of the bill.”

Critics decried the ruling as “shameful,” arguing that foreign nationals living in the U.S. should have a say in who governs them.

“While we are still reviewing the decision and its impact on immigrant New Yorkers, the lawsuit remains another shameful attempt by xenophobic Republicans who would disenfranchise residents rather than promote a more inclusive and participatory democracy,” NYIC Executive Director Murad Awawdeh said in a statement quoted by POLITICO. “Immigrant New Yorkers deserve a say in how their local government functions and spends their tax money, and we remain committed to ensuring the expansion of voting rights.”

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