New York City Council greenlights measure to allow nearly 800,000 non-citizens to vote in local elections

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Nearly 800,000 non-citizens in New York City may soon have the right to vote in city elections.

The New York City Council on Thursday approved a measure that would allow green card holders and those with work authorizations who have been living in the city for at least 30 days to cast ballots in local races. The controversial decision does not allow those non-citizens to vote in state or federal elections, according to Fox News.

The decision, passed by mostly lame-duck council members, will make New York City the largest metropolis in the nation to give non-citizens the vote.

The bill was sponsored by Councilman Ydanis Rodríguez, who said at a rally outside of City Hall that this measure “will make our city stronger, we will have more people participating in our electoral process, we will have even more people to be motivated to be citizens because after they participate at the local level, they will be more interested and engaged and highly motivated to be a citizen so now they can vote at the federal level.”

(Video: PIX11)

Although both Democratic and Republican lawmakers tried to stall the legislation, City Council passed the bill in a 33-14 vote. The New York state Republican Party has promised to take legal action to halt the bill.

“We pledge action, legal or otherwise, any means necessary to stop this dangerous legislation from undermining our elections,” party chairman Nick Langworthy said at a press conference. The chairman warned it will “allow foreign powers … the ability to influence U.S. elections.”

Other opponents are worried the measure will have an adverse effect on immigrants putting forth the effort to actually earn the right to vote. Democratic Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo warns it might negatively impact the black vote.

And, Democratic Councilman Mark Gjonaj, called the vote irresponsible, arguing that as written, the bill “doesn’t protect New York City; it makes it vulnerable to outside influence, which he says “makes the crown jewel of the country vulnerable,” according to the New York Post.

The council’s minority leader, Republican Joe Borrelli stated that “the measure “devalues the votes of 5.6 million current New Yorkers. If we have people registered to vote that are allowed to vote per the state constitution, and if we add people who are specifically prohibited to vote per the state constitution, we water down the votes of the 5.6 million people.”

In September, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on local radio station WYNC that he did not support the measure, because he believed only the state has the legal ability to enact such a law.

“I think there’s a real set of mixed feelings it generates in me about what’s the right way to approach this issue,” he said at the time. He has since backtracked on his comments and says he will sign the bill when it comes across his desk.


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