On Dec. 9, the New York City council voted to allow DACA recipients, green card holders and people with work permits to vote in the city’s municipal elections. The bill passed 33-14 with two abstentions, according to council records.
After the bill passed, the hashtag #OurCityOurVote trended on Twitter, but not everyone was pleased with the approval. New York Senate GOP leader Rob Ortt issued a joint statement with fellow Republican Sen. Andrew Lanza, calling it a “blatant disregard for our Constitution.”
After news of the change to New York City voting laws broke, VERIFY audience member Betty emailed: “Is this true? In New York City, the bill — passed 33-14 — will allow almost 900,000 immigrants to vote, including DACA recipients, green card holders, and anyone with a work permit.”
Can DACA recipients, green card holders and people with work permits now vote in New York City?
Yes, it is true that DACA recipients, green card holders and people with work permits can now vote in New York City municipal elections. This law does not allow these groups to vote in statewide or federal elections, and does not apply to undocumented individuals and people who don’t live in New York City.
WHAT WE FOUND
According to records from the New York City council, the bill that passed on Dec. 9 “would provide a process for individuals in New York City who are lawful permanent residents or are authorized to work in the United States to vote in municipal elections.” Sources estimate this applies to between 800,000 and 900,000 residents of New York City who are DACA recipients, green card holders or people with work permits.
This bill does not apply to statewide or national elections, such as the presidential election.
The joint statement released after the Dec. 9 vote from New York Republican senators Rob Ortt and Andrew Lanza said the move was a “slap in the face to every law-abiding American citizen who values the sacred right to participate in our democracy, and is the latest attempt by New York Democrats to destroy the sanctity of our elections for their own political purposes.”
It also said they are confident a legal challenge to the bill will be successful.
Ralina Cardona, Northeast regional vice president for the League of United Latin American Citizens, said she would not be surprised if opponents of the bill try to take it to court, but added that right now is an exciting time in history for New York City voters.
“We know many Latinos, many immigrants are essential workers. They kept this city alive, they kept the city fed, they kept the city safe and healthy. So, for me, it is exciting, because that's what this country began on taxation without representation. And they said, ‘Well, wait a minute, we should be able to pick and choose who will be representing us.’ And they pay their Social Security taxes. They go to the supermarket, they're paying taxes on their gas, they're paying taxes on their food, they're paying taxes on everything. So once again, it is exciting,” she said.
New York City isn’t the first major city to allow noncitizens to vote. In total, there are 15 cities that allow some noncitizens to vote. Those cities are located in California, Maryland, New York and Vermont.
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