(The Center Square) – Republicans on Monday announced they will ask a judge to strike down a recently passed New York City law that gives certain noncitizens the right to vote in municipal elections.
State and national GOP leaders joined a group of locally elected officials in filing the lawsuit in a Staten Island court. They did so after new Mayor Eric Adams declined to veto the measure the New York City Council passed last month.
The lawsuit points to Article II, Section 1 of the New York Constitution, which states “every citizen” age 18 and older who has been a state resident for at least the 30 days before the election can vote in it.
It also cites state election law that says no one can register to vote or cast a ballot unless they’re an American citizen. The suit also claims the state’s Home Rule Law means the only way election law can be changed is through a referendum.
Republicans decried the measure as not just unconstitutional but un-American.
“The government should be working to create more trust in our elections, not less,” said U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who represents Staten Island, in a Republican news release. “The right to vote is a sacred right given only to United States citizens.”
Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella slammed the law in the statement. He said it makes a “total mockery” of the voting process and is an affront to citizens, especially those who immigrated to the country, took citizenship classes and took an oath for the country.
Bill de Blasio was mayor when the council passed the ordinance last month. While he said he had concerns about the measure, he declined to veto it.
That left it up to Adams, but he announced he would not stand in its way on Saturday.
“While I initially had some concerns about one aspect of the bill, I had a productive dialogue with my colleagues in government that put those concerns at ease,” he said in a statement. “I believe allowing the legislation to be enacted is by far the best choice and look forward to bringing millions more into the democratic process.”
State GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy ripped Adams for “kowtowing to the radical City Council.”
“This lawsuit is the only thing that will stop them from their ultimate goal of eradicating all the lines between citizens and noncitizens,” Langworthy said.
The new law gives any noncitizen who establishes legal residency at least 30 days before an election the right to vote in city elections. That would include voting in mayoral and council races.
It will give about 800,000 people the right to vote starting next year. Less than 1.1 million residents voted in November’s mayoral election. Adams, a Democrat, won that race with 67% of the vote.
Undocumented individuals would not be eligible.
According to The Pew Charitable Trusts, other communities across the country allow noncitizens to vote. That includes San Francisco, Montpelier and Winooski in Vermont and nine cities and towns in Maryland.