Theoretically, voting is a system by which citizens of a nation, state, or other unit of governance can make their voices heard in a peaceful and productive manner, and thus have a say in how their community is governed and who governs it. “Citizen” is one of the crucial words there; voting is intended for citizens.
Or, at least, it was. Now, New York City has just voted to let some non-citizens vote. As the Washington Times reports:
Noncitizens in New York City would gain the right to vote in municipal elections under a measure approved Thursday by the City Council that would give access to the ballot box to 800,000 green card holders and so-called Dreamers.
Only a potential veto from Mayor Bill de Blasio stood in the way of the measure becoming law, but the Democrat has said he would not veto it. It’s unclear whether the bill might still face legal challenges.
[…]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 so-called “Dreamers,” to help select the city’s mayor, city council members, borough presidents, comptroller and public advocate.
The Washington Times adds that while “More than a dozen communities across the United States already allow noncitizens to cast ballots in local elections, including 11 towns in Maryland and two in Vermont. But New York City is the largest place by far to give voting rights to noncitizens.”
However, one important limitation on the bill is that it only gives certain non-citizens, green card holders and “dreamers,” the right to vote in municipal elections.
So, while New York City is letting non-citizens vote in its city elections, that (theoretically) won’t affect state or federal elections, as the non-citizens cannot vote in them. For now, at least.
Other states, reacting to bills such as this one, have enacted laws that would prevent municipalities from passing laws allowing non-citizens to vote. Alabama, for example, recently adopted such a provision, and some states, such as Arizona, already had one on the books.
The city’s Republicans oppose the bill, saying that it should and will likely face legal challenges. In fact, even Democrats are split on it. Some, such as Laurie Cumbo, oppose the bill, saying it will “have national repercussions” and could negatively impact other groups. Others, like Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, are more positive. He said:
“It is no secret, we are making history today. 50 years down the line when our children look back at this moment they will see a diverse coalition of advocates who came together to write a new chapter in New York City’s history by giving immigrant New Yorkers the power of the ballot.”
With De Blasio saying he won’t veto it, the only left is for the bill to pass any legal challenges it might encounter. What those will be and how successful they will be remains to be seen.
This story syndicated with permission from Will – Trending Politics