New York City Expands Voting Rights to Noncitizens

The law, which applies to about 800,000 legal permanent residents and those authorized to work in the U.S., comes as the country faces a wave of voting restrictions.

New York City has approved a measure that allows noncitizens to participate in local elections, expanding rights for about 800,000 residents at a time when other parts of the country are making it harder to vote. The legislation applies to legal permanent residents and those authorized to work in the U.S., a fraction of the 3 million immigrants living in the city.

The City Council voted 33 to 14, with two abstentions, in favor of the legislation. Outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he would let the bill go into law, though he has reservations. Mayor-elect Eric Adams has voiced support for the proposal.

“We are giving dignity and respect to close to 1 million New Yorkers who made important contributions,” Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, the bill’s prime sponsor, said in an interview. “Their contribution should be valued and measured the same as any other New Yorkers’.”

The bill was introduced in January 2020, though the idea has been around since the mayor took control of public schools two decades ago, disbanding the school board elections that noncitizens were allowed to participate in. The new law would let them to vote in New York City’s elections for mayor, comptroller, public advocate, City Council, borough presidents and ballot initiatives.