The White House may not be making any progress on the Democrats’ “voting rights” bill thus far, but the City Council of New York is trying to set an example for them with a dubious (and probably illegal) bill of its own. The proposal, currently supported by a veto-proof majority of council members, would allow non-citizens with green cards or work permits to vote in municipal elections. Current records indicate that the change would apply to more than 800,000 residents of the Big Apple and could significantly change the generic ballot slant in multiple borough or city-level races. But even if it’s passed, the bill faces a number of hurdles. (National Review)
The New York City Council will vote on December 9 on a law to allow green-card holders and residents with work permits to vote in municipal elections.
Around 808,000 New York City residents who have work permits or are lawful permanent residents would be eligible to vote under the legislation, which has the support of 34 of 51 council members, 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.
The first thing to take note of here is that the newly minted voters would not be able to participate in state-level or federal elections. (That would be unconstitutional at the federal level.) They would, however, get to vote for offices such as the City Council and Borough presidents, as well as municipal ballot measures applying only to Gotham. Other cities have previously passed similar laws in the past. Also, the law wouldn’t allow illegal aliens to vote, so it’s not as bad as it might have been.
But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be smooth sailing. The first and probably largest obstacle comes from the New York State Constitution which specifies that voters must be “citizens age 18 or older.” Surely someone on the City Council has been informed of this by now, but they don’t seem to be deterred. All it would likely take is one court challenge to place an injunction on the new law, likely leading to it being abolished by the courts.
The constitutional deficit in the bill is bad enough that even Mayor Bill de Blasio has previously stated that he would probably have to veto it if it arrived on his desk. The bill has enough public support on the council to override a veto, but it’s not clear if all of the Democrats supporting it would be willing to vote to counter the actions of a mayor from their own party. Curiously, Hizzoner’s incoming and considerably more conservative replacement, Eric Adams, has publicly supported this bill in the past.
Non-citizens who have entered the country legally and obtained all of the proper documentation should certainly have the right to live and work where they choose so long as they continue to act in a lawful manner. But that really doesn’t give them the right to vote, at least in my opinion. They are guests of our country, pretty much by definition. The selection of our elected officials and the crafting of our laws and policies should be decided by our natural-born or naturalized citizens. You don’t get invited over to someone’s house and immediately start rearranging the furniture without asking permission, do you?