Fuggedaboutit: Judge Blocks New York Plan To Let Foreigners Vote

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June 27, 2022

A judge on Monday blocked a New York City law that would allow almost one million foreigners to vote in municipal elections.

Justice Ralph Porzio in Staten Island, N.Y., faulted city officials for side-stepping the state constitution to get between 800,000 and 1 million non-citizens on New York's voter rolls. The law allows legal immigrants who are not citizens to vote for municipal offices in New York City, including mayor, city councilman, and comptroller. These so-called municipal voters can't vote in state or federal elections.

Voting rights for foreigners in local elections are gaining traction in left-wing enclaves around the country. San Francisco has allowed non-citizen voting since 2017, as have a handful of towns in Maryland and Vermont, according to the Pew Research Center. New York's City Council joined that list in December. The law was slated to take effect in January 2023.

The blue-city trend makes for a stark contrast with red states, which over the last two years have fine-tuned procedures to promote election integrity.

The Republican National Committee and various GOP grandees challenged the city's law in state court. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R., N.Y.) and state party chairman Nicholas Langworthy are among the plaintiffs.

Porzio's decision is straightforward. New York's constitution provides a right to vote for citizens, but no others. And state election law expressly prohibits non-citizens from voting. Even if the city could allow non-citizens to vote, the judge added, a public referendum would have to authorize such a change.

"There is no statutory ability for the City of New York to issue inconsistent laws permitting non-citizens to vote and exceed the authority granted to it by the New York State Constitution," the judge wrote.

City lawyers tried to get legal challenges tossed by arguing that Republicans have no standing for challenging the law in court. Porzio disagreed.

"The addition of 800,000 to 1,000,000 non-eligible votes into municipal elections significantly devalues the votes of the New York citizens who have lawfully and meaningfully earned the right to vote pursuant to constitutional requirements," the decision reads.

Mayor Eric Adams (D.) has flip-flopped on the measure. As a candidate, he professed strong support for non-citizen voting. But he's taken a hands-off approach since taking office, allowing the bill to proceed by neither signing nor vetoing it. A spokesman for Adams on Monday again ducked the issue, telling the New York Times that the mayor's office is "evaluating next steps."