The New York City Council on Thursday voted to grant noncitizens the right to vote in local elections, becoming the largest U.S. municipality to do so. File Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 9 (UPI) -- New York City on Thursday became the largest city in the United States to allow immigrants who are not U.S. citizens to vote in local elections.
The city council voted 33-14 with two abstentions to approve the measure allowing noncitizens to vote in elections for positions such as mayor, city council and comptroller among others. It does not extend to state or federal elections.
The legislation applies to noncitizens with green cards or right to work who have lived in New York City for at least 30 days, allowing them to vote in local elections beginning Jan. 9, 2023.
Approximately 1 million adult noncitizens live in New York City, which would amount to 20% of currently registered voters.
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, the bill's primary sponsor, said the law will give more people who live in New York City and pay taxes the right to vote on how the city is run.
"People who are looking to get elected to office will now have to spend the same amount of time in the communities affected by this legislation as they do in upper-class neighborhoods," Rodriguez told The New York Times.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio objected to the legislation, questioning whether the City Council has the power to grant voting rights to noncitizens.
Mayor-elect Eric Adams said he has supported the rights of green card holders to vote in local elections but has similarly expressed concerns about the scope of the City Council's authority.
Republicans said they plan to challenge the measure in court, saying the state constitution says "citizens" can vote, on matters such as taxes, debt, liability and zoning.
"I don't think those things should be decided by foreign citizens," Republican Councilman Joseph Borelli told The Washington Post. "This is not about a stop sign on their corner."
Fourteen smaller U.S. jurisdictions allow noncitizens to vote, with many in Maryland and Vermont. San Francisco allows noncitizens to vote on the school board.
On the contrary, North Dakota and Arizona formally prevent noncitizens from voting and Colorado, Florida and Alabama last year approved ballot measures stating only U.S. citizens can vote.