Allowing aliens to vote in New York City violates state law and devalues citizenship

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Democrats pushing voting rights for noncitizens

The panel on ‘The Five’ offer reaction and analysis

In a saner age, something referred to as the “Non-Citizen Voting Law” would be instantly recognized as a contradiction in terms and laughed out of city hall. But this is 2022, and New York City has just implemented a law permitting aliens to vote in local, municipal elections. 

Passed by the city council and signed by Mayor Eric Adams, it essentially creates a new class of voters, termed “municipal voters,” which includes permanent resident aliens and those aliens authorized to work in the United States who have resided in New York City for at least 30 days. 

The “Non-Citizen Voting Law” is fraught with issues. For one thing, it’s hardly fair to the many aliens who have gone through the lengthy process of becoming citizens. More importantly, allowing aliens to vote violates the New York constitution and state election law. 


The state constitution provides in Art. II, Sec. 1, that “[e]very citizen shall be entitled to vote at every election for all officers elected by the people” as long as they are at least “eighteen years of age or older” and have resided in the “county, city, or village for thirty days” prior to the election (emphasis added). This language is clearly not limited to just statewide elections; it applies to all state and local elections in New York.

This constitutional emphasis on citizenship as a requirement for voting is again outlined in New York state election law. Section 5-102(1) of Chapter 17 explicitly states that “No person shall be qualified to register for and vote in any election unless he is a citizen of the United States.” It does not provide any exceptions. There is no question that legal alien residents and those aliens authorized to work in the U.S. by the Department of Homeland Security are barred from voting in any election in New York.

The U.S. government was created to be by the people, for the people, and of the people. “People,” however, refers solely to the American people

The New York City Council does not have the legal authority to write their own exception, particularly since this statute specifically says that it applies to “all elections at which voters of the state of New York may cast a ballot” to elect a candidate to “any federal, state, county, city, town, or village office.” 

Furthermore, the Municipal Home Rule Law of New York requires a public referendum to pass any law that would change the manner of nominating, electing or removing an elected official. No such referendum was held here, so the city council didn’t comply with that requirement either. 

Hans von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow and Ashley Wilson is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.

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