New York City law allows 800,000 'noncitizens' and 'Dreamers' to vote in local elections

The law allows a noncitizen to vote after being in the United States for only 30 days.

Published: January 9, 2022 10:52pm

Updated: January 10, 2022 2:01pm

More than 800,000 noncitizens and "Dreamers" will be able to vote in New York City elections as early as next year after newly elected Mayor Eric Adams allowed the bill to automatically become law Sunday.

The City Council approved the bill a month ago, and the Big Apple is now the largest of dozens of U.S. communities that allow noncitizens to vote, The Associated Press reports.

The new law allows anyone to vote who is over the age of 18, has been a resident of New York City for at least 30 consecutive days prior to the election and "is either a lawful permanent resident or authorized to work in the United States." 

The law specifies that the new voters must meet "all qualifications for registering or pre-registering to vote under the election law, except for possessing United States citizenship." This includes "Dreamers" who came into the United States illegally as minors.

The Board of Elections plans to draw up a plan to implement the law by July, before the 2023 election. Most notably, the plan will need to include provisions creating different ballots for municipal races in order to prevent noncitizens from voting in federal and state elections. 

Adams expressed concern over the law's requirement that allows a noncitizen to vote after only being in the United States for 30 days. On CNN's "State of The Union" Sunday, Adams said, "I thought it was more important to not veto the bill or get in the way at all."

Noting that nearly half of all people in Brooklyn speak a language other than English at home, he explained, "I think it's imperative that people who are in a local municipality have the right to decide who's going to govern them, and I support the overall concept of that bill."

The new law will likely face legal challenges. Opponents argue that the City Council does not have the authority to allow noncitizens to vote and the city should have first sought legal authorization from the state Legislature, according to The Associated Press.

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