Proposed Bill Would Give Non-Citizen, Immigrant New Yorkers the Right to Vote

May 9, 2013 | Julia Dawidowicz

Just like other New Yorkers, documented immigrants living legally in NYC pay municipal taxes and boost our economy. So why shouldn’t they be allowed to vote? This is the logic behind a new bill proposed by Queens Councilman Daniel Dromm that would let non-citizens who have lived in the city for over six months participate in municipal elections.

The bill would require that the non-citizens provide a government-issued document proving residence in NYC, along with proof of mental competency and a clean criminal record. After presenting these documents, their status as a registered voter would remain. In other words, the same rules and procedures would apply to non-citizen New Yorkers as to any other registered voters.

“This is extremely important, because it’s based on the founding principle of this country and that was, ‘No Taxation Without Representation,’” Councilman Dromm said. “All of the people who would be included in this and would be allowed to vote are paying taxes, they’ve contributed to society.”

New York being such a historically immigrant-friendly and diverse city, it’s unsurprising that the bill has already received veto-proof support from the rest of City Council. However, Mayor Bloomberg isn’t too keen on the idea, asserting that immigrants should be required to attain legal citizenship, thereby proving  “allegiance to this country before being given that right.” Who knew becoming a legal U.S. citizen was so simple?

While the bill wouldn’t come into effect until November at the earliest, it’s a progressive and exciting prospect that would give a voice to over a third of our city’s population.