NY Supreme Court strikes down law allowing noncitizens to vote

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The New York Supreme Court ruled Monday that a New York City law that allowed noncitizen residents to vote in municipal elections is illegal.

The law, passed in December 2021 by the New York City Council, created a class of voters called “municipal voters,” comprised of noncitizens who reside in the city for at least 30 days before an election and register or pre-register to vote. Under the law, municipal voters were granted the right to participate in elections for mayor, public advocate, comptroller, borough president, and council member.

“The New York State Constitution explicitly lays the foundation for ascertaining that only proper citizens retain the right to voter privileges,” Richmond County Supreme Court Judge Ralph Porzio said in the court’s ruling. “It is this Court’s belief that by not expressly including non-citizens in the New York State Constitution, it was the intent of the framers for non-citizens to be omitted.”

The bill first became law automatically after former Mayor Bill de Blasio and current Mayor Eric Adams both declined to either sign or veto it. De Blasio had openly expressed concerns about it, recognizing that there were “big legal questions” surrounding it. He had also stated that he was worried the noncitizen residents of the city – estimated to be somewhere between 800,000 and 1 million people – would have less incentive to become citizens.

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The Republican National Committee and New York Republican State Committee joined a group of officeholders and individual voters who sued city officials over the law, arguing that it violates the New York State Constitution, state election law, and the Municipal Home Rule Law. They also claimed that their votes would be diluted by allowing noncitizens to vote. 

Upon examining Articles II and IX of the State Constitution, Judge Porzio added that “it is clear to this Court that voting is a right granted to citizens of the United States,” and thus the city law granting the right to noncitizens violates the constitution.

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Porzio also cited New York Election Law section 5-102(1), which states: “No person shall be qualified to register for and vote at any election unless he is a citizen of the United States.” He also found the city law to be in violation of the Municipal Home Rule Law, which states that local governments can adopt their own laws so far as they are “not inconsistent with” the state constitution or other laws “relating to its property, affairs of government[.]”

“There is no statutory ability for the City of New York to issue inconsistent laws permitting non-citizens to vote and exceed the authority granted to it by the New York State Constitution,” Porzio concluded, granting a declaratory judgment stating that the city law is void, as well as an injunction prohibiting city officials from registering noncitizens to vote.

Fox News reached out to Mayor Adams’s office for comment, but they did not immediately respond.

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Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., who represents Staten Island, where the case was filed, celebrated the decision.

“This Supreme Court decision is a victory for preserving the integrity and security of our elections,” Malliotakis said in a statement. “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.”

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