Judge Strikes Down New York City Alien Voting Law
FAIR Take | July 2022
New York City enacted a law to provide voting privileges to foreign nationals in local elections. The legislation which was scheduled to take effect in 2023, became law on January 9. The day after the bill became law the New York State Republican Party Chairman Nicholas Langworthy and elected officials and voters from around New York City filed a lawsuit. Recently, a judge has struck down the City’s voting law for violating multiple provisions of the state constitution and state statutes. An appeal, while likely, has not yet been filed.
Under the city’s alien voting law, Local Law 11, the Board of Elections is directed to create new voter rolls and ballots for foreign national “municipal voters” who would be eligible to vote for city offices and city ballot questions but would be ineligible to vote in state or federal races. The law would allow anyone who has lived in the city for 30 days and is legally authorized to work in the United States to be eligible to register and to vote. In addition to lawful permanent residents (“green card holders”), this law could potentially extend the voting franchise to individuals residing in New York City on temporary work visas, recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Action for Childhood Admissions (DACA), refugees, asylum applicants and immigration parolees.
On June 27, Richmond County (Staten Island) Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio ruled that Local Law 11 violated the New York State Constitution, Section 5-102 of the New York Election Law which states that “[n]o person shall be qualified to register for and vote at any election unless he is a citizen of the United States”, and Section 23(2)(e) of the New York Municipal Home Rule Law which requires that any change in the method of electing officers of a local government must be approved by the voters in a referendum.
Judge Porzio then issued an injunction ordering the city and its agencies not to implement the alien voting law. He found that there was no statutory ability for the City of New York to issue inconsistent laws permitting non-citizens to vote and the law exceeded the authority granted to it by the New York State Constitution. Judge Porzio held that while voting is a right that so many citizens take for granted, the City of New York cannot “obviate” the restrictions imposed by the Constitution.”
Congresswoman Malliotakis commended the court, stating “[t]his Supreme Court decision is a victory for preserving the integrity and security of our elections … I stand with the vast majority of New Yorkers who are pleased to see the court strike down Democrats’ shameful attempt to dilute the voices of American citizens by allowing non-citizens to vote. The government should be working to create more trust in our elections, not less.”
Assemblyman Tanoussis further praised the judge’s ruling, saying, “[a]s the son of immigrants that came to this country legally and worked tirelessly to become citizens, I consider voting to be a sacred right bestowed on American citizens …The idea that a person can move to New York City and register to vote after 30 days is preposterous and ripe for fraud.”
And Councilman Borelli added that “[o]pposition to this measure was bipartisan and cut across countless neighborhood and ethnic lines, yet progressives chose to ignore both our constitution and public sentiment in order to suit their aims … I commend the court in recognizing reality and reminding New York’s professional protestor class that the rule of law matters.”
Supporters of the alien voting law vowed immediately to appeal. However, this decision is not up to them but the city’s law department. The law department has not decided whether to appeal and it issued a statement saying they were “evaluating next steps.”
According to the laws in New York, the notice of appeal must be filed within thirty days of the judgment. Therefore the law department must make its decision to meet July 27 deadline.