New York City Council considers letting non-citizens vote

The Council is scheduled to hold a hearing on allowing non-citizen residents to vote in municipal elections

By Jillian Rayfield
Published May 9, 2013 5:18PM (UTC)
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The New York City Council will hold a hearing on Thursday to again consider allowing non-citizen residents to vote in municipal elections, a measure that appears to have a veto-proof majority in the Council, after a similar measure failed to pass in 2004.

The proposal would extend voting rights to "not a United States citizen, but is lawfully present in the United States" and "has been a resident of New York City, as defined herein, for six months or longer by the date of such election." This would include local elections, including for mayor, the comptroller, the public advocate, members of the city council, and the borough presidents.

The New York Daily News reports:

Many experts question whether the Council has the authority to grant permanent residents voting rights. Deciding who, when and where individuals can vote has been seen as a power held by the New York State Legislature. But some noted authorities think that New York City can allow non-citizen voting without state action. Among them are the New York County Bar Association, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Queens College Prof. Ronald Hayduk, a leading expert on immigrant voting issues, agrees. Proponents have an uphill fight in the New York State Legislature, so if the Council votes to make non-citizen voting New York City law, the courts will likely have the last word.

A spokesman for Michael Bloomberg told TPM that the Mayor does not support the bill. “The Mayor believes voting is the most important right we are granted as citizens and you should have to go through the process of becoming a citizen and declaring allegiance to this country before being given that right. That being said, this bill violates the State constitution and the Administration does not support it," Evelyn Erskine said.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Elections Immigrants Immigration Reform Michael Bloomberg New York New York City New York City Council