A new city law that would grant voting rights in local elections to certain legal immigrants in New York City is gaining momentum as terms for current City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio come to an end. A much-anticipated vote on the measure is scheduled for next month.
“This entire city is built on immigrants,” said Brooklyn Borough councilman Antonio Reynoso, one of the supporters of the bill who gathered outside City Hall on Tuesday. “It’s time we showed these representatives in the voting booth what we want, what we need and what we deserve.”
The bill, Introduction 1867, would allow approximately 900,000 non-civil legal permanent residents to register to vote for their local representatives including Mayor, City Council, Public Attorney, City Superintendent and Borough President. The measure is currently scheduled for a council vote on December 9.
While the bill has long enough support in the Council to be passed, it recently received a 34-strong super-majority, which is also enough to override a possible mayoral veto. However, the legislation faces major hurdles before it can be implemented.
One of those hurdles is Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has previously said he doesn’t think the bill is legal. The mayor softened his stance on Tuesday when asked about it during his daily briefing. He stressed that he wants people to pursue citizenship “every chance they get” and while he still wondered if this is something that can be enacted at the local level, he said he would not veto the bill if it says: week by the Council.
“It’s a democracy,” de Blasio said. “[It’s] certainly not something I would intend to veto, but it’s also something I’m not sure is the right way to go about it,” he added.
If the legislation passes the Council, as expected, De Blasio could sign the bill before he leaves office, or it could be automatically passed after 30 days.
However, that 30-day period extends into the next administration, meaning that incoming Mayor Eric Adams could decide to veto it within the first few days of his administration, or he could “schedule a hearing, a predicate for actually signing the bill in the early days of his administration,” said City Law Department spokesman Nicholas Paulucci.
Adams has said he supports expanding voting rights to legal non-citizen New Yorkers, and is a close ally of one of the bill’s most active and outspoken supporters, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez. But Adams’ most recent public comments on the bill during the latest general election debate echoed concerns raised by de Blasio — that is, whether the city could make this change to the electoral law at the local level without state approval. .
“I think it’s so important to have that documented, green card [holders] should have the right to participate in local elections. It is my understanding that the legal department is saying that the state must implement that,” Adams said when asked about the bill during the… October 26 debate.
“That will not be the power in the city council or our city. So hopefully the state legislators will look into that and determine what’s best for the city,” he added.
When asked about the current position of the elected mayor, spokesman Evan Thies pointed to past comments Adams made in support of the legislation.
Even if the bill were to go into effect, it’s unclear whether the New York City Board of Elections would change its procedures to implement it — unless ordered by the state or the courts. In 2017, de Blasio signed legislation that online voter registration system here in New York City, but the city of BOE refused to enact the law without a directive from the state.
Supporters of the voting rights bill said they are willing to continue their fight until thousands of tax-paying, non-citizen New Yorkers are given a voice in electing local elected officials.
Murad Awawdeh, head of the New York Immigration Coalition, said New York has a chance to lead the nation as the largest major city in extending voting rights to legal immigrants in New York, and he is optimistic that Adams will show his support for the bill will proceed. .
“We look forward to running this program under his administration,” Awawdeh said.