Well, at least there’s a U.S. state that is making an impact on voting rights in a positive way. N.Y. Mayor Eric Adams has allowed voting legislation to become law on Sunday, letting 800,000 New York noncitizens who work and live in the city to vote in local elections. New York City would be the largest jurisdiction in the country to offer the right to vote to noncitizens.
The new law allows noncitizens who have been lawful permanent residents of the city for at least 30 days, “Dreamers,” and those who are lawfully permitted to work in the U.S. to participate in selecting the city’s mayor, city council members, borough presidents, comptroller and public advocate.
Noncitizens would not be able to vote for president or members of Congress in federal races or in the state elections that pick the governor, judges, and legislators.
Mayor Adams spoke about the new law in a statement according to the Associated Press:
“I believe that New Yorkers should have a say in their government, which is why I have and will continue to support this important legislation,” Adams said in a statement Saturday.
“While I initially had some concerns about one aspect of the bill, I had a productive dialogue with my colleagues in government that put those concerns at ease. I believe allowing the legislation to be enacted is by far the best choice, and look forward to to bringing millions more into the democratic process.”
In an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Adams defended the law with a bit more detail.
“I think it’s imperative that people who are in a local municipality have the right to decide who’s going to govern them, and I support the overall concept of that bill,” he said.
Pressed by CNN’s Jake Tapper on whether the new law would “make a mockery” of United States’ citizenship and what he would say to people who were working to secure citizenship, Adams was unwavering.
“Don’t let anything daunt you or take you away from that mission,” said Adams of people pursuing the lengthy citizenship process. “This legislation is not going to do that,” he added, “keep becoming a citizen of this country.”
Staten Island Borough President Vito Fosella has stated he would sue to block the bill, so the law will face an uphill battle before it can be put into place. Also, the Board of Elections has to draw up an implementation plan by July. It would include voter registration rules and provisions to create separate ballots for municipal races to prevent noncitizens from casting ballots in federal and state contests.