For many years, immigrants rights organizations, politicians and individuals have been pushing to grant legal residents and those with work authorizations in New York City the right to vote in city elections. Tomorrow, Dec. 9, it appears their wish will come true.

At 11 a.m. the New York City Council is scheduled to vote on the bill, titled Intro 1867. If the bill is passed, as it is expected to, it would allow more than 800,000 noncitizens to vote in municipal elections for New York City offices, including City Council seats, mayor, public advocate and comptroller, as well as ballot initiatives.

Thirty-six out of 51 councilmembers have sponsored the bill, a veto-proof margin. It would not, however, grant anyone the right to vote in state or federal elections.

Already, the New York City Immigration Coalition, an enormous proponent of the legislation, is scheduling a victory party.

Concilmember and incoming Brooklyn borough president Antonio Reynoso speaking at a rally for Intro 1867. Image: William Alatriste/NYC Council Media Unit.

Before the decision to vote, the legislation, which was introduced by Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, who represents Manhattan’s District 10, which includes the neighborhoods of Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill, had been stalled for a considerable amount of time, causing some current and incoming elected officials, including Bushwick’s Sandy Nurse, to get restless.

Proponents of the bill argue that New York’s noncitizen residents are people who live in the city, work in the city, pay taxes in the city and send their children to school in the city. Yet, they can’t vote for their representatives. Opponents worry about the legality of the bill and believe the right to vote should be reserved for citizens.

According to Our City Our Vote, similar legislation has existed before in NYC and currently exists elsewhere in the United States. Until 2003, when school boards were disbanded, non-citizens were allowed to vote in school board elections. 

Although he doesn’t necessarily support it, New York’s lame duck mayor, Bill de Blasio, has reported that he will not veto the legislation. Meanwhile, the city’s incoming mayor, Eric Adams, has voiced his support of the legislation.

“Expanding the right to vote to people who live here, work here, raise families here and collectively pay billions of dollars in taxes here should not be controversial. It should be the easiest vote you take in your career on the City Council,” Adams wrote in testimony to the City Council in September. This statement was first published by City & State.

Still, even after the bill is passed, it will likely face some significant legal challenges. Incoming GOP councilman David Carr, told ABC that, if the bill is passed, he expects a New York State court to overturn it. “I believe fundamentally that the right to vote is part of being a citizen…And it should be exclusive to them.”


Featured image: William Alatriste/NYC Council Media Unit

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