Staten Island judge strikes down NYC's non-citizen voting law

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Monday, June 27, 2022
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Non-citizens cannot vote in municipal elections, a Staten Island judge ruled Monday, invalidating a recently enacted New York City law.

STATEN ISLAND, New York City (WABC) -- Non-citizens cannot vote in municipal elections, a Staten Island judge ruled Monday, invalidating a recently enacted New York City law that made more than 800,000 adults eligible to vote for mayor, public advocate and other city posts beginning next year.

"The New York State Constitution expressly states that citizens meeting the age and residency requirements are entitled to register and vote in elections," Justice Ralph Porzio wrote, emphasizing the word citizens. "Though voting is a right so many citizens take for granted, the City of New York cannot 'obviate' the restrictions imposed by the Constitution."

The New York City Council passed the bill in 2021, but then-Mayor Bill de Blasio declined to sign it.

The bill automatically took effect when Mayor Eric Adams took no action on it.

The law enfranchised lawful permanent residents and green card holders to vote for mayor, public advocate, comptroller, borough president and city council.

It did not allow these residents to vote for any state or federal office.

"The New York State Constitution explicitly lays the foundation for ascertaining that only proper citizens retain the right to voter privileges," Porzio wrote. "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 ruling is a victory for Republican lawmakers who sued to block measure.

"American elections should be decided by American citizens," said Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, which was among the plaintiffs. "The RNC is proud to head a broad coalition in successfully challenging this unconstitutional scheme and will continue to lead the effort across the country to ensure only citizens can vote in America's elections."

An appeal is expected.

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