Last Updated on June 27, 2022
The New York State Supreme Court has struck down a New York City measure that would give non-citizens the right to vote in local elections.
The New York City Council previously approved the “Our City, Our Vote” bill in December, which became law in January. This gave non-citizens who are either legally authorized to work in the country or have legal permanent residence status the right to vote in municipal elections.
Non-citizens were set to gain voting rights as early as 2023. The number of new eligible voters would have likely topped 800,000.
A group of GOP lawmakers filed a suit in Staten Island Supreme Court to block the measure soon after it passed, however. The Republican National Committee and New York Republican State Committee soon joined the group of officeholders and individual voters who sued the city.
They argued that the measure violates the New York State Constitution, state election law, and the Municipal Home Rule Law. The New York Supreme Court ultimately agreed with them.
“The New York State Constitution explicitly lays the foundation for ascertaining that only proper citizens retain the right to voter privileges,” Richmond County Supreme Court Judge Ralph Porzio said in the court’s ruling.
“It is this Court’s belief that by not expressly including non-citizens in the New York State Constitution, it was the intent of the framers for non-citizens to be omitted.”
The bill became law automatically after both Mayors Bill DeBlasio and Eric Adams declined to either sign or veto it. DeBlasio questioned the legality of the measure and worried that non-citizen NYC residents would become less likely to obtain citizenship.
“There is no statutory ability for the City of New York to issue inconsistent laws permitting non-citizens to vote and exceed the authority granted to it by the New York State Constitution,” Porzio concluded in the court’s opinion, declaring the law void.