While councilmembers in New York City voted last week to allow legal non-citizens to vote in their local elections, the Big Apple is far from the first in the U.S. to do so, though it is the largest city to enact such a measure.
The nearly 800,000 legal non-citizens in New York City are among those in 14 other jurisdictions that have similar laws allowing local election balloting, most of which are Maryland, a Democrat-dominated state led by a moderate-to-left-leaning Republican governor, Larry Hogan.
According to the Maryland Constitution, municipalities can allow non-citizens to take part in local elections.
“Maryland’s municipalities that allow certain noncitizens to vote include Barnesville, Cheverly, Chevy Chase Section 3, Garrett Park, Glen Echo, Hyattsville, Martin’s Additions, Mount Rainier, Riverdale Park, Somerset and Takoma Park. The 11 locales are in close proximity to Washington, D.C.,” Fox News reported.
In addition to the Maryland jurisdictions, two municipalities in Vermont allow for non-citizen voting. Elected officials in Winooski and Montpelier passed measures this year even though GOP Gov. Phil Scott attempted to block the legislation.
Also, San Francisco started allowing some non-citizens to vote in school board elections in 2016 via a ballot measure called Proposition N. And in February, the Democra-run Illinois General Assembly introduced a bill that would give certain non-citizens the right to vote.
“More liberal cities, including Los Angeles, Washington, Portland, Maine and others, have floated the idea of enacting similar laws, while other states, including Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Arizona and North Dakota, have rules that would preemptively stop any attempts to pass noncitizen voting laws,” Fox News added.
New York’s measure applies to green card holders and others who are authorized to work inside the United States and who have lived in the city for at least a month. It authorizes non-citizens to vote in municipal elections to include all primary, special, general, or run-off elections for mayor, comptroller, public advocate, borough president or council member. They can also vote in local ballot initiatives.
Illegal aliens cannot vote, however, which is the same throughout the country for the time being.
“In one of the most diverse cities in the world, we need to ensure that there is adequate representation for all New Yorkers. That starts by expanding the scope of who is allowed to vote in our local elections,” New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who introduced the measure, noted in a statement Thursday.
“Immigrants in New York City own over half of the local businesses and contribute over $190 billion dollars to the citywide GDP,” Rodriguez claimed, adding that more than half of NYC’s “front-line essential” workforce consists of “immigrants,” while one-in-five “are non-citizen New Yorkers.”
“They have all earned the right to participate in our city elections,” he said. “Today, we are writing a new chapter in our city’s history. One that will finally include the voices of all immigrant New Yorkers who hold green cards, working authorizations, DACA or TPS.”
Non-citizens covered under the will become eligible to vote by December 2022 and can begin casting ballots the following January.
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