More than 800,000 noncitizens and “Dreamers” in New York City will be able to vote in municipal elections as early as next year now that Mayor Eric Adams allowed legislation to automatically become law Sunday. It’s a major step for the nation’s most populous city, where legally documented, voting-age noncitizens comprise nearly one in nine of the city’s 7 million voting-age inhabitants. The movement to win voting rights for noncitizens prevailed after numerous setbacks. The measure would 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., including “Dreamers,” to help select the city’s mayor, city council members, borough presidents, comptroller and public advocate.
“Dreamers” are young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children who would benefit from the never-passed DREAM Act or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows them to remain in the country if they meet certain criteria.
Opponents have vowed to challenge the new law, which the City Council approved a month ago. Unless a judge halts its implementation, New York City is the first major U.S. city to grant widespread municipal voting rights to non-citizens. Some states, including Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, and Florida, have adopted rules that would preempt any attempts to pass laws like the one in New York City.
Dreamers are as American as any of us. This is their home.
The Dream Act should be law. Share if you agree.
— Josh Harder (@JoshHarder) January 8, 2022
The Board of Elections must now begin drawing an implementation plan by July, including voter registration rules and provisions that would create separate ballots for municipal races to prevent noncitizens from casting ballots in federal and state contests. At least a dozen communities across the U.S. already allow noncitizens to cast ballots in local elections, including 11 towns in Maryland and two in Vermont. Noncitizens still wouldn’t be able to vote for president or members of Congress in federal races, or in the state elections that pick the governor, judges, and legislators.
Today, New York City becomes the first major U.S. city to grant widespread municipal voting rights to noncitizens.
800,000+ noncitizens and “Dreamers” will be able to vote after Mayor Eric Adams allowed legislation to automatically become law. pic.twitter.com/GOvRbqbVZl
— The Recount (@therecount) January 9, 2022
The first elections in which noncitizens would be allowed to vote are in 2023.