La Jornada newspaper
Monday, January 10, 2022, p. 22
New York., More than 800,000 non-citizens and Dreamers residing in New York City will be able to participate in municipal elections starting next year, after Mayor Eric Adams yesterday allowed an initiative to become law automatically .
The detractors have promised to challenge with legal resources the measure called Our city, our vote, which the City Council approved a month ago; However, unless a judge stops its implementation, New York is the first megapolis in the United States to grant extended municipal voting rights to non-citizen residents in the country, since in more than a dozen US communities they allow non-citizen residents vote in local elections, including 11 townships in Maryland and two in Vermont.
However, they will not be able to vote for president or members of Congress in federal races, or participate in state elections that elect governor, judges and legislators.
Dreamers are young immigrants who came to the United States without legal authorization as children, who would benefit from the never-passed federal Dream Act, which would have allowed them to remain in the country if they met certain criteria.
The New York Board of Elections must now design a specific protocol for July, including rules and clauses for voter registration only for municipal races, in order to prevent non-citizens from casting their votes in federal and state elections.
It is a pivotal moment for the most populous city in the country, where non-citizen residents with documents and voting age represent nearly one in nine of the nearly 7 million residents of voting age.
The movement that has fought for these voting rights prevailed after several setbacks.
The measure would allow non-citizens – but who have at least 30 days of permanent and legal residence in the city – as well as those who have legal authorization to work in the United States, including Dreamers, to participate in the election of mayor, city council members, district presidents, auditors, and public defenders.
Noncitizens could register to vote within a year and cast their vote in local elections beginning January 9, 2023, according to the city council, The New York Times reported.
The newspaper noted that in Colorado, Florida and Alabama voters passed ballot measures last year that stipulated that only US citizens can vote, while North Dakota and Arizona already formally prohibit non-citizens from voting.
We build a stronger democracy when we include the voices of immigrants, said former city councilor Ydanis Rodriguez, who led the legal mobilization for the approval of the respective legislation.
Recently, Mayor Adams created uncertainty about the referred legal framework when he expressed concern about the requirement to require voters to verify residency for at least one month, but then indicated that they did not mean that he would veto it.
While there were some questions about whether the official could prevent it from becoming law, the 30-day limit for the mayor to take action expired on the edge of the first few minutes of Sunday.
Adams stressed that he hoped the law would bring millions more into the democratic process.
I believe New Yorkers should have a voice in their government, which is why I have supported and will continue to support this important legislation, he said in a statement released Saturday night.
He added that his previous concerns were allayed after what he called a productive dialogue with his colleagues.