New York City lawmakers are planning to vote on legislation that would allow hundreds of thousands of noncitizens to vote in local elections, The New York Times reports.
The New York City Council plans to approve a bill that would allow more than 800,000 legal residents who are not citizens to vote in local elections, as long as they have a green card or work visa.
Noncitizens would still not be allowed to participate in federal or state elections.
The Democratic-dominated council plans to approve the bill by December 9 over the objections of outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Noncitizens in New York previously were allowed to vote in school board elections until the boards were abolished nearly 20 years ago.
Supporters say noncitizens should be allowed to vote in municipal elections because they pay taxes, send their kids to public schools, and rely on city services.
De Blasio, GOP opposes:
Opponents of the bill say the legislation would weaken voting rights of citizens and discourage immigrants from becoming citizens.
De Blasio on Tuesday expressed concern that the bill would undermine the “value of citizenship” and argued that only the state legislature can allow noncitizens to vote, a claim that many experts refuted.
But de Blasio said he would not veto the bill if it passes.
Republican Councilman Jospeph Borelli argued that the bill would “weaken” the votes of citizens.
“Someone who has lived here for 30 days will have a say in how we raise our taxes, our debt and long-term pension liabilities,” he said. “These are things people who are temporary residents should not have a say in.”
Noncitizen voting grows:
Several towns in Maryland and Vermont already allow noncitizens to vote in municipal elections and San Francisco allows noncitizens to participate in school board elections.
Some cities in California, Maine, Illinois, and Massachusetts are looking at similar legislation.
“In the so-called blue states, we are moving toward expansion and that includes expansion of noncitizen voting,” Joshua Douglas, a professor at the University of Kentucky, told the Times. “In the so-called red places, you are moving toward more constrictions on the right to vote, which includes noncitizens. The whole world of voting rights has become one that is more polarized, even more than normal.”