New York City's noncitizen voting law struck down

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Noncitizens cannot vote in municipal elections, a Staten Island judge ruled Monday, invalidating a recently enacted New York City law that made more than 800,000 adults eligible to vote for mayor, public advocate and other city posts beginning next year.

The New York City Council passed the "Our City, Our Vote" bill in December 2021 which then-Mayor Bill de Blasio declined to sign. The bill automatically took effect in January.

"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 after the law became enacted.

The law did not allow noncitizens to vote for any state or federal office.

"The New York State Constitution explicitly lays the foundation for ascertaining that only proper citizens retain the right to voter privileges. It is this court's belief that by not expressly including noncitizens in the New York State Constitution, it was the intent of the framers for noncitizens to be omitted," Judge Ralph Porzio said, adding, "Though voting is a right so many citizens take for granted, the City of New York cannot 'obviate' the restrictions imposed by the Constitution."

Murad Awawdeh, executive director of New York Immigration Coalition, said the organization will continue to fight to "ensure that nearly 1 million New Yorkers who are building their lives here and investing in our communities can have a say in their local democracy."

"We refuse to allow today's verdict to further the disenfranchisement of Black and brown communities in New York City," he added.

The ruling is a victory for Republican lawmakers who sued to block measure.

"Today's decision validates those of us who can read the plain English words of our state constitution and state statutes: Noncitizen voting in New York is illegal, and shame on those who thought they could skirt the law for political gain," City Council minority leader Joseph Borelli said in a statement Monday.

He went on, "Opposition to this measure was bipartisan and cut across countless neighborhood and ethnic lines, yet progressives chose to ignore both our constitution and public sentiment in order to suit their aims. I commend the court in recognizing reality and reminding New York's professional protestor class that the rule of law matters."

Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, which was among the plaintiffs, said U.S. 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," she said.

A spokesperson for the New York City Law Department told ABC News: "This is a disappointing court ruling for people who value bringing in thousands more New Yorkers into the democratic process. We are evaluating next steps."

Mayor Eric Adams' office did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

An appeal is expected.

ABC News' Kyla Guilfoil contributed to this report.

Related Topics