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NEW YORK (77WABC) — New York City lawmakers are getting ready to allow more than 800,000 New Yorkers who are green card holders or have the legal right to work in the U.S. to vote in the city’s elections.
According to The New York Times, the bill, known as “Our City, Our Vote,” would make New York City the largest municipality in the country to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections. The law — expected to be approved by the City Council on Dec. 9 by a veto-proof margin — comes as the country is dealing with a swath of new laws to impose voter restrictions, as well as the economic and demographic effects of a decline in immigration.
Voters in Alabama, Colorado and Florida passed ballot measures last year specifying that only U.S. citizens could vote, joining Arizona and North Dakota who have made clear that noncitizens could not vote in state and local elections.
“It’s important for the Democratic Party to look at New York City and see that when voting rights are being attacked, we are expanding voter participation,” said Ydanis Rodriguez, a councilman who sponsored the bill and represents Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan, to the Times.
The legislation — first introduced almost two years ago — is the culmination of more than a decade of work to gain local voting rights for some legal permanent residents. It also extends the right to those with work authorization, such as DACA recipients.
According to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, of the estimated 808,000 adult New Yorkers who are lawful permanent residents, green card holders, or have work authorization, about 130,000 are from the Dominican Republic; 117,500 of those people are from China. Those eligible must be residents of New York City for 30 days and otherwise eligible to vote under state law.