A proposal being considered by the New York City Council could allow non-citizens, including illegal immigrants granted amnesty, to vote in local elections. While non-citizen voting is allowed in some small municipalities in Maryland and Massachusetts, New York would be the largest city to pass the proposal, according to Talking Points Memo.
“It’s going to be huge and just imagine the implications that are involved here,” Councilman Daniel Dromm, one of the co-sponsors of the measure, told TPM.
Ron Hayduk, professor at Queens College and co-founder of the New York Coalition To Expand Voting Rights, helped craft the proposal and told TPM that it is could influence the national immigration debate.
“It would send a big message to the rest of the country and embolden campaigns which are ongoing in other places like San Francisco, and Portland, Maine, and Washington, D.C., and other places,” Hayduk said. “It would certainly be viewed favorably by immigrants’ rights advocates and be seen by other policy makers as another level of discussion about the whole business of the role of immigrants in the United States.”
Because the immigration reform bill could make illegal immigrants legal through amnesty almost immediately if it passes, those in the city would likely be allowed to vote if the city council measure passes.
New York state currently requires citizenship to be eligible to vote. According to TPM:
This legislation, “Voting By Non-Citizen Residents,” would allow immigrants who are “lawfully present in the United States” and have lived in New York for “six months or longer” on the date of a given election to vote provided they meet all the other current requirements for voter registration in New York State. This means they must “not be in prison or on parole for a felony conviction” and “not be declared mentally incompetent by a court.” For their first time voting, they must also provide identification including; “copy of a valid photo ID, current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check, or some other government document that shows your name or address.”
Identification requirements would not remain after their initial vote. The bill only affects local races and calls for the registration forms provided to these “municipal voters” to specify that they “are not qualified to vote in state or federal elections.”
An advocate of immigration reform, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not supportive of the move and doesn’t think the measure is acceptable under current state law.
“The Mayor believes voting is the most important right we are granted as citizens and you should have to go through the process of becoming a citizen and declaring allegiance to this country before being given that right. That being said, this bill violates the State constitution and the Administration does not support it,” Evelyn Erskine, a spokeswoman for the mayor said.
But the proposal currently has a veto-proof majority of supporters on the council with 34 of 51 members pledging to vote in favor, the amount required to block a veto. The measure has been in the works since 2010, when just eight members supported it.
Current mayoral candidates oppose the measure, including former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-NY, who has not yet officially announced his candidacy, though it is not anticipated that the law will be in effect in time for the mayoral election in November.
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