NEW YORK – A coalition of elected officials and immigration rights organizations are supporting legislation that would give non U..S citizens the right to vote in New York City elections. The effort, call Our City, Our Vote is a campaign to expand the right to vote in municipal elections to New York residents who are legal permanent residents or have a work authorization. Currently, nearly one million New York City residents cannot vote in local elections because of their citizenship status.If passed, this legislation would allow these New Yorkers to participate in municipal elections for local officials, such as City Council Members, Mayor, Public Advocate, and Comptroller, as well as ballot initiatives. Individuals must have been a resident of New York City for at least 30 days and otherwise must qualify to register and vote under New York State election law. The legislation also includes key safeguards such as robust community education, training for poll workers and agency staff who may be handing out voter registration forms, and the ability of a voter to opt out of registering if they did so by mistake.
“We live in a moment when reactionary forces are throwing up barriers to the right to vote, and the President lies about voter fraud,” said Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “Yet nearly one million New Yorkers are denied the right to vote. They legally live here, work here, go to school here, and are raising families here. Yet, despite paying billions of dollars in taxes, they have no say in the direction of our city. The Our City, Our Vote bill presents an opportunity to right that wrong.”
This proposed legislature is sure the ignite the ire of conservatives and anti immigration groups that have strongly supported efforts to give non citizens the right to vote in local elections across the U.S. “We are a city of immigrants whose contributions to our city’s economy, workforce, and cultural identity are undeniable and yet they cannot exercise the right to vote,” said NYC Council Member Farah Louis (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood, Marine Park, Flatlands, Kensington). ” With all of the anti-immigrant rhetoric in our nation’s capital and our democracy at stake, now is the time to engage, empower, and mobilize immigrants to weigh in on policies and initiatives that will affect their way of life.”