The New York City Council on Thursday passed a bill that would allow an estimated 800,000 noncitizens to vote in municipal elections.
The measure passed in a 33 to 14 vote with two abstentions and will become law unless Mayor Bill de Blasio steps in and vetoes the bill, though he has said he does not plan to do so. Even if the Democratic mayor has a change of heart, there was enough support on the council to override a veto.
However, New York Republicans have threatened to challenge the bill, which they believe may be unconstitutional, and de Blasio has warned that the bill is unlikely to survive a legal challenge.
The measure would allow noncitizens to vote for mayor, City Council members, and other municipal officeholders but would not allow them to vote in federal elections, such as for president or members of Congress, or in state elections that elect the governor, judges, and legislators.
The move will allow noncitizens who have been lawful permanent residents of the city for at least 30 days, as well as those authorized to work in the U.S. and DACA recipients, to vote in municipal elections.
If the measure becomes law, the Board of Elections would be tasked with outling an implementation plan by January. That plan would be required to include voter-registration rules and provisions to create separate ballots for municipal races to safeguard federal and state elections.
New York City would join a dozen communities across the U.S. that allow noncitizens to vote in local elections, including eleven towns in Maryland and two in Vermont, the Associated Press reported.
Laurie Cumbo, the council’s Democratic majority leader, opposed the bill and warned that it would have “national repercussions.”
“I think this is a terribly bad bill,” Democratic councilman Robert Holden told National Review. “It’s amazing it has this many cosponsors. For the life of me I don’t know why any elected official would want this.”
At least 35 out of 51 council members signed on as cosponsors.
“When you think about it, it’s absurd for somebody who’s a noncitizen to establish residency in New York City for 30 days, and then you can vote in all municipal elections,” Holden said.
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