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Sunnyside Post: City Council Likely to Pass Legislation Permitting Noncitizens the Right to Vote in Local Elections | November 2021: New York City is on track to allow noncitizens the right to vote in local elections.
City lawmakers will likely pass legislation next month that will give the city’s more than 800,000 green card holders and authorized workers the right to partake in municipal elections.
The bill’s prime sponsor Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez — who emigrated from the Dominican Republic at 18 and is a former green card holder himself — announced Tuesday that the council will vote on the legislation on Dec. 9. He made the announcement during a rally in support of the bill outside City Hall.
The legislation, titled “Our City, Our Vote”, has been sponsored by 34 of the 51 council members and has the backing of the public advocate. The bill has a veto-proof majority.
The new law would make New York City the largest municipality in the country permitting noncitizens the right to vote in local elections, according to the New York Times.
The bill applies to both green card holders and noncitizen residents who are legally allowed to work in the country. It requires noncitizen voters to have lived in the city for at least 30 consecutive days prior to the election.
The bill would permit legal residents with the right to vote in city elections, such as for mayor, public advocate, comptroller and their local council member. They would still be unable to vote in state and federal elections.
Queens Community House, a nonprofit that serves 25,000 residents in 14 Queens neighborhoods, is a staunch supporter of the bill.
The organization said that many taxpayers in Queens have no say as to how their tax money is spent since they cannot vote due to their lack of citizenship.
“Many of our neighbors in Queens [are] unable to participate in [the voting] process because they do not yet have citizen status,” a representative for Queens Community House testified before the City Council in September. “They are here legally, and as such they pay taxes at the same rate as all of us. But they have no say in how their tax money is spent.”
The nonprofit said that the lack of voting rights isn’t just unfair to those excluded, but disadvantageous to all New Yorkers and “a misrepresentation of democracy.”
“If we truly embrace the principle of democracy, then we must recognize its value is not just for the individual but for the whole of society,” the Queens Community House representative said at the council hearing.
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