Monday’s ruling by the New York Supreme Court found that a New York City law allowing noncitizen residents of New York City to vote in municipal elections was illegal.
New York City Council passed the law in December 2021. It created a new class of voters, called “municipal votes”. These are non-citizens who have been living in the city for more than 30 days prior to an election, and pre-register or register to vote. Municipal voters are allowed to vote in elections for mayor and public advocate, comptroller as well as council members.
In the court’s ruling, Richmond County Supreme Court Judge Ralph Porzio stated that “The New York State Constitution explicitly provides the foundation for ascertaining the right of proper citizens to vote privileges.” “It is the belief of this Court that the New York State Constitution did not explicitly include non-citizens. It was the intention of the framers that non-citizens should be omitted.”
After former Mayor Bill de Blasio, Eric Adams and current Mayor signed it or vetoed it, the bill became law immediately. De Blasio expressed his concerns openly about the bill, acknowledging that there were “big legal issues” surrounding it. De Blasio also expressed concern that noncitizen residents in the city, estimated at 800,000.000 to 1 million, would be less motivated to become citizens.
The Republican National Committee and New York Republican State Committee joined an alliance of individual voters and officeholders who sued the city officials over the law. They claimed that it violated the New York State Constitution, the state election law and the Municipal Home Rule Law. The noncitizens would also be allowed to vote, they claimed.
After reviewing Articles II to IX of the State Constitution Judge Porzio stated that “it is evident to this Court that voter is a right granted citizens of the United States.” Therefore, the city law that grants the right to noncitizens is in violation of the constitution.
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Porzio also cited New York Election Law Section 5-102(1), which says: “No one shall be eligible to register for or vote at any election except he is a citizen the United States.” Porzio also found that the city’s law was in violation of the Municipal Home Rule Law. This states that local governments may adopt their own laws as long as they are not inconsistent with the state constitution or any other laws “relating its property, affairs, and government
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.), who represents Staten Island where the case was filed celebrated the decision.