New York City Council: Asks State Supreme Court to Allow Non-Citizens to Vote in Local Elections

The New York City Council asked the state’s highest court to strike down a pair of rulings, paving the way for immigrants who are non-citizens to vote in city elections.

The controversial change to elections, passed in late 2021 by the City Council and signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was then mayor, would have allowed 800,000 non-citizens with green cards the legal authorization to vote but was shot down as unconstitutional last month by an appellate court.

“Today’s filing to appeal the Second Department’s recent decision seeks a determination from the state’s highest court that the law is consistent with the State Constitution, Election Law, and the Municipal Home Rule Law,” said the City Council Rendy Desamours spokesperson. “Empowering New Yorkers to participate in our local democratic process can only strengthen New York City by increasing civic engagement.”

The council argues that non-citizens here should be able to vote legally since they contribute to their community and pay taxes.

The case now heads to New York’s Court of Appeals.

Co-defendant in previous court battles, Mayor Eric Adams, didn’t join in on the challenge Monday.

Adams has been quiet as of late about the law, which was sponsored by former Democrat Councilman Ydanis Rodríguez, who now serves as commissioner of the Department of Transportation.

When Adams first took office, he said allowing non-citizens to vote was the “best choice” after initially having concerns.

News of the appeal comes after advocates rallied outside City Hall

News of an appeal follows hours after advocates rallied outside City Hall to gain support for the mayor’s office initiative and others in New York City.

“Republicans think they can use the courts to disempower immigrant communities, and communities of color, from voting,” said a senior manager at the New York Immigration Coalition, Taina Wagnac, at the rally. “We have a chance for justice as we proceed with an appeal.”

A contingent of GOP politicians challenged the dubious legislation in January 2022. They argued that the law would devalue New York citizens’ votes and was unconstitutional. 

Republican U.S. Representative Nicole Malliotakis of New York represents Staten Island and celebrated the original decision to block the legislation.

“There is nothing more important than preserving the integrity of our election system, and in today’s age, the government should be working to create more trust in our elections, not less,” said the congresswoman.

The February appellate decision was the City Council’s second court loss over the bill, following the 2022 Staten Island Supreme Court’s ruling against the law.

The appeal’s timeline continues to remain unclear.

The legal battle comes as asylum seekers have become a hot-button issue, predicted a significant issue in New Yorkers’ minds this November.