On December 9, the New York City Council will vote to approve a law that allows residents with work permits and green-card holders to vote in municipal elections.
The legislation would allow around 808,000 New York City residents with work permits or lawful permanent residents to vote. It has been supported by 34 of 51 council members. This majority is a veto-proof majority.
“It’s important for the Democratic Party to look at New York City and see that when voting rights are being attacked, we are expanding voter participation,” Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, a sponsor of the bill and Democrat who represents the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, told the New York Times. Rodriguez immigrated from the Dominican Republic and became a U.S. citizen in 2000.
Although the legislation was introduced for the first time two years ago, legal issues have prevented it from being passed. Laura Wood, the Chief Democracy Officer of the mayor’s offices, stated at September’s hearing that the bill could be in violation of the New York State Constitution. This states that all voters must be U.S citizens over 18 years old.
After the September hearing, Mayor Bill de Blasio indicated that he could veto this bill.
“We’ve done everything that we could possibly get our hands on to help immigrant New Yorkers—including undocumented folks—but…I don’t believe it is legal,” de Blasio told WNYC radio at the time.
Eric Adams, the mayor-elect, testified at the September hearing for the bill’s approval.
“In a democracy, nothing is more fundamental than the right to vote and to say who represents you and your community in elected office,” Adams said. “Currently, almost one million New Yorkers are denied this foundational right.”