More than 800,000 noncitizens and “Dreamers” could vote in New York City municipal elections as early as next year, after Mayor Eric Adams allowed legislation to become law on Sunday.
In December, city legislators passed a measure to allow about 800,000 “green card” holders (permanent US residents) and so-called “dreamers” (children granted temporary US residency after being brought to the country undocumented as children) to vote in municipal elections.
“I believe that New Yorkers should have a say in their government, which is why I have and will continue to support this important legislation,” Adams said in a statement Saturday.
“While I initially had some concerns about one aspect of the bill, I had a productive dialogue with my colleagues in government that put those concerns at ease. I believe allowing the legislation to be enacted is by far the best choice, and look forward to bringing millions more into the democratic process,” Adams continued.
Unless a judge halts its implementation, New York is the first major US city to grant widespread municipal voting rights to non-citizens.
More than a dozen communities across the US allow non-citizens to vote in local elections, including 11 towns in Maryland and two in Vermont. Non-citizens cannot vote for president or Congress, or in state elections.
The legislation gives city residents the ability to have more control in the local decisions that directly affect their lives, advocates say.
Meanwhile, last year, Alabama, Colorado, and Florida adopted rules that prevent any attempts to pass similar legislation in cities in their states.
The legislation directs the Board of Elections to draw up an implementation plan by July, including voter registration rules and provisions that would create separate ballots for municipal races to prevent non-citizens from casting ballots in federal and state contests.
Non-citizens would not be allowed to vote until elections in 2023.