NY Citizens Look to Appeal Unconstitutional Law That Allowed Non-Citizens to Vote

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: Apr 04, 2024

The New York City council made waves on Monday when they turned on their decision to allow non-citizen voter rights.

The council filed with the state’s highest court to make changes to the 2022 law, which was passed to grant voter rights to non-citizens with green cards or working authorization who also live in New York City.

New York Excited to Engage Citizens in the Democratic Process

Rendy Desamours, a spokesperson for the New York City council, made a bold statement about the voting process in the state.

An American flag waves above a city hall building

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The spokesperson shared the council’s excitement for the people of New York to participate in the “local democratic process” and is hopeful that the discussion will strengthen the city.


The Appellate Court Makes a Decision on the New Law

Last month, the legislation was put before the Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department in New York. The Appellate court is commonly referred to as the court of appeals, as the office can overturn existing laws.

Entrance to the New York Appellate Court is shown with large Greek style columns

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The law was ultimately deemed unconstitutional and, therefore, unable to continue existing in the state.

A Win for Local Republicans

The issue first faced opposition when New York Republicans sued to block the new law.

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Before the law had the ability to come into action, the group sued the state in January 2022, arguing that the right to vote should be “sacred” to US citizens. However, the lawsuit was struck down only a month later at a court in Staten Island. An ultimate victory for local Republicans.

The Law Sought Votes From Almost One Million Non-Citizens

The law was an attempt to allow almost 800,000 non-citizens to vote for mayoral candidates and city council members.

An empty New York City street, large buildings and a blue sky are seen in the background

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Now known as Local Law 11, the law was passed in an attempt to give a voice to the almost one million non-citizens who reside, work, and attend school in New York City.

New York Mayor Defending the Decision

Although the law has come at a stark cost to the mayor of New York, he still defends the decision to pass the law.

New York City mayor Eric Adams delivers a speech at a wooden podium. A man and a woman can be seen in the background

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Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City, remains steadfast in his decision to pass the local law allowing non-citizens to vote. Various groups supporting immigration attended a rally in support of the mayor outside of City Hall.


Decision to Allow Voting Rights Was Not Taken Lightly

Although Republicans have often criticized their opponents for fishing for votes by supporting immigration, the mayoral office cites multiple reasons to pass the law.

A group of people of various genders and ethnicities stand at American ballot boxes to cast a vote

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However, the decision comes at a time when non-citizens, whether they be green card or in flux, work, live, and pay taxes to both the federal and state governments.


Adding Voting Rights Does Not Diminish the Votes of Citizens

Although citizen voters fear that their interests will not be heard among the increased voices in the voting pool, these fears are unfounded.

The outside of a polling station is shown with multiple paper signs on glass doors

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Local Brooklyn Democrat, Alexa Avilés, stated at the council immigration meeting that those who are working and paying taxes in New York should be allowed a say in the democratic process. She further explains that granting voting rights to those who add to the city doesn’t subtract anything from the country’s citizens.


Support Groups Still Fighting the Appeal

Attorneys from a local group called LatinoJustice are attempting to fight the appeal of the law.

A group of citizens hold signs in support of voter rights

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he group sent appeals to City Council, the mayor’s office, public advocates, the comptroller, and the borough president in an attempt to garner support for the law.


The Integrity of Citizenship Up for Question

Although many groups still support Local Law 11, many more are concerned about the implications that it can cause in relation to the importance of citizenship.

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Members of the United States Congress have raised issues with the law, stating that voting rights need to be preserved for the importance of citizenship in the country. As well, the law raises questions of integrity in the electoral system.


Growing Movements to Legalize Non-Citizen Voting

Although the bill was quickly struck down by the Appellate court in New York, the movement continues to grow around the country.

A group of people is shot from behind while waving small American flags

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Non-citizen voters are extremely rare in America, but proponents maintain a commitment to allowing green card holders the right to access the democratic process.


Questions Remain for the Future of the Law

With both sides fighting over the strange and possibly unconstitutional law, the future of non-citizen voting remains unclear.

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Small movements have been made in an effort to allow non-citizen voters. However, the legality and the ethics of the movement remain in flux.