Court Strikes Down NYC's Non-Citizen Voting Law

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February 22, 2024

A New York City law that would have let non-citizens vote in local elections was struck down as unconstitutional by a New York appeals court on Wednesday. 

"We determine that this local law was enacted in violation of the New York State Constitution and Municipal Home Rule Law, and thus, must be declared null and void," said Appellate Judge Paul Wooten in the 3-1 majority ruling. 

The law, approved in 2021 by the NYC Council and signed by Mayor Eric Adams the following year, would have allowed around 800,000 non-citizens in the city—green card holders and others with federal work authorization—to vote in local elections. A New York lower court in 2022 already sided with Republican plaintiffs in striking down the law, but the Adams administration brought the case to the appeals court. 

Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, denounced the lawsuit as "another shameful attempt by xenophobic Republicans who would disenfranchise residents rather than promote a more inclusive and participatory democracy," adding that "immigrant New Yorkers deserve a say in how their local government functions and spends their tax money."

Meanwhile, many Republicans celebrated the Wednesday ruling. Assemblyman Michael Tannousis, one of the plaintiffs, said, "During a time where nearly 200,000 migrants have flooded our city and streets, disrupting the public and attacking our police officers, my colleagues and I have worked tirelessly to protect our voting laws which were created for citizens of the United States. Democracy always wins and I am proud to say it was delivered yet again today."

New York congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (R.) described the right to vote in the United States as "a sacred right given only to United States citizens" and urged "left-wing lawmakers [to stop] pushing these unconstitutional and reckless measures that dilute the voices of American citizens."

The Big Apple is one of several cities in the United States, including Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, that have sought to implement non-citizen voting. In October, the D.C. city council passed a law allowing non-citizens—even illegal immigrants and foreign diplomats—to cast votes in local elections.