As of Sunday, a new measure became law which gives over 800,000 non-citizens, including Dreamers, eligibility to vote in local elections in New York city as soon as 2023.
“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,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement Saturday.
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In December, the New York City Council voted 33-14 to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections. They will still be ineligible to vote in state and federal elections.
Legally documented non-citizens make up over 10% of the voting-age population in New York City. The new law applies to non-citizens who have been permanent residents for 30 days, anyone legally authorized to work in the United States, and Dreamers to vote in elections for local government positions such as mayor, council members, borough presidents, comptroller and public advocate.
“We build a stronger democracy when we include the voices of immigrants,” said former council member Ydanis Rodriguez, who led the charge for the legislation.
“It was really hard for me to see how my other friends were able to make decisions for their future, and I couldn’t,” said 32-year old Dreamer Eva Santos.
The measure became law when Adams allowed his veto period to expire. Although he initially expressed concern about the measure, he explained that he is now on board with it.
“I did not change my mind. I supported the concept of the bill. The one aspect of that I had a problem with and I thought was problematic was the 30-day part,” he said.
“I’m a big believer in conversation, we have to start talking to each other and not at each other. And after hearing [colleagues’] rationale and their theories behind it, I thought it was more important to not veto the bill,” Adams concluded.
Opponents of the bill maintain that the council does not have the authority to change voting law this way and that that action should be pursued at the state level. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio also expressed concern about the constitutionality of the measure, saying he had “mixed feelings” about “some outstanding legal questions about the City’s authority versus the State’s.”
Lawmakers are taking notice and some have even enacted measures that would prevent laws similar to New York from being passed in their own states. Alabama, North Dakota, Arizona, Colorado and Florida are all states with preventative measures enacted.
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