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NY law allowing non-citizens to vote gets struck down in court

A poll worker gets "I Voted" stickers ready.(Carolina Hidalgo/Tampa Bay Times/TNS)
June 28, 2022

The New York Supreme Court ruled on Monday that non-citizens do not have the right to vote in local elections, striking down a new law passed last year allowing legal permanent residents who have lived in the city for at least 30 days to vote.

State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio wrote in his decision that the legislation violates New York State’s constitution, which only allows citizens to vote. The legislation also violates the New York State Election Law and the Municipal Home Rule Law.

“The New York State constitution expressly states that citizens meeting the age and residency requirements are entitled to register and vote in elections,” Porzio wrote. “There is no statutory ability for the City of New York to issue inconsistent laws permitting non-citizens to vote and exceed the authority granted to it by the New York State Constitution. Though voting is a right that so many citizen take for granted, the City of New York cannot ‘obviate’ the restrictions imposed by the constitution.”

The decision comes after the Republican National Committee (RNC) sued New York City Mayor Eric Adams, the New York City Council and the New York City Board of Elections in January over the unconstitutional law, which was passed last year by the Democrat-controlled city council in a vote of 33 to 14, CNN reported. The law was scheduled to go into effect in January 2023.

“By dramatically increasing the pool of eligible voters, the Non-Citizen Voting Law will dilute the votes of United States citizens, including the Plaintiffs in this action,” the RNC’s complaint said.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel praised the ruling in a statement.

“Today’s ruling is a huge victory for election integrity and the rule of law: American elections should be decided by American citizens. The RNC is proud to head a broad coalition in successfully challenging this unconstitutional scheme and will continue to lead the effort across the country to ensure only citizens can vote in America’s elections,” the statement read.

After Justice Porzio released his decision, New York City Councilman Kalman Yeger tweeted that his Democrat colleagues knew the bill – which would have allowed 800,000 noncitizens to vote, per CNN – was “unconstitutional from the start.”  

“Today, a New York State court struck down NYC’s unconstitutional law allowing non-citizens to vote. This law was unconstitutional from the start, and even those who voted for it knew this,” he wrote. “Only Albany can change this. Not the Council. That’s why I voted against it last year.”