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The New York City Council is seeking to allow noncitizen immigrants with green cards or legal authorization to vote in city elections. The controversial election change was passed in 2021 but was ruled unconstitutional by an appellate court. The City Council has now asked the state’s highest court to strike down the rulings and clear the way for noncitizen voting. They argue that noncitizens who are here legally should be allowed to vote since they pay taxes and contribute to the community.

The appeal comes after Mayor Eric Adams did not join in challenging the court rulings. Adams had initially expressed concerns about the law but later stated that allowing noncitizens to vote was the best choice. The legal battle over the law, known as Local Law 11, has been ongoing since it was signed by former Mayor Bill de Blasio. Advocates for the law rallied outside City Hall to gain support for the initiative, emphasizing the importance of empowering immigrant communities and communities of color through voting.

Republican politicians have challenged the law on the grounds that it is unconstitutional and would devalue the vote for citizen New Yorkers. US Rep. Nicole Malliotakis praised the appellate court’s decision to block the law, stating that preserving the integrity of the election system is crucial. This legal battle follows a previous ruling by the Staten Island Supreme Court against the law in 2022. The timeline for the appeal process remains unclear as the case now heads to New York’s Court of Appeals.

The City Council believes that allowing noncitizens to vote will strengthen New York City by increasing civic engagement. They have filed an appeal with the state’s highest court seeking a determination that the law is consistent with the State Constitution, Election Law, and the Municipal Home Rule Law. With asylum seekers becoming a political flashpoint, the issue of noncitizen voting is expected to be a major factor on the minds of New York voters as they approach the upcoming November elections.

As the legal battle over noncitizen voting in New York City continues, advocates are emphasizing the importance of allowing noncitizens who are here legally to participate in local democracy. While the controversial law has been challenged by Republicans who argue it is unconstitutional, supporters believe that empowering immigrant communities through voting is crucial. The appeal to the state’s highest court and the involvement of Mayor Eric Adams in the legal process will be key factors as the city grapples with the implications of potentially allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections.

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