Home » New York City law to let non-citizen’s vote ruled unconstitutional in appellate court

New York City law to let non-citizen’s vote ruled unconstitutional in appellate court

by John Jefferson
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A New York state appeals court has denied an attempt by New York City leaders to implement a law that would let non-citizens vote in local elections.

In a 3-1 ruling issued Wednesday by the Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department, the body said the law violated the New York Constitution and Municipal Home Rule Law.

It “must be declared null and void,” the court said in a 43-page ruling.

The law was passed in December 2021 by the City Council and created a class of “municipal voters,” comprising non-citizens who reside in the city for at least 30 days before an election and register or pre-register to vote. Municipal voters would be granted the right to participate in elections for mayor, public advocate, comptroller, borough president and council member.


The law faced legal challenges almost immediately. 

It would have applied to some 800,000 new eligible voters in a city of 8.5 million. However, the appellate court said that the clause in the state constitution that says “every citizen shall be entitled to vote…” applies exclusively to U.S. citizens.

“As there is no reference to non-citizens, and thus, an irrefutable inference applies that non-citizens were intended to be excluded from those individuals entitled to vote in elections,” the court said. 

New York Mayor Eric Adams enacted the law upon taking office in January 2022. It was ruled illegal several months later. The mayor defended the law and appealed a lower ruling against it.  

Fox News Digital has reached out to Adams’ office and it was not clear if he would appeal Wednesday’s ruling.


Eric Adams speaks during Manhattan press conference

Many Democrats championed the law, saying it would make the city’s politics more inclusive, while Republicans contended it could lead to voter fraud and that Democrats were only looking to pad their numbers. 

“Great news! We won in the appellate court and @NYCMayor’s attempt to implement the law to register non-citizens to vote in #NYC elections has been struck down,” U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-New York, posted on X. “This is a big victory in preserving both the integrity of our elections & the voice of American citizens!

Malliotakis, who represents New York’s borough of Staten Island, was one of several plaintiffs to sue over the law, along with Borough President Vito Fossella.

“Fortunately, common sense prevails in New York, thanks to the decision reached by the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department. The New York State Constitution is clear in that only citizens can vote in our local elections. It is simply irresponsible and nonsensical to extend this right to non-citizens. We are pleased that the Appellate court shared this understanding. This is a win for New York citizens and upholds the integrity of our elections,” Fossella said.

The New York Immigration Coalition said it was disappointed in the ruling. 

“For generations, New York City’s culture and economy have benefited from the immigrants who have come here to work, raise their families, uplift their communities and pay taxes in New York,” NYIC Executive Director Murad Awawdeh said in a statement. “While we are still reviewing the decision and its impact on immigrant New Yorkers, the lawsuit remains another shameful attempt by xenophobic Republicans who would disenfranchise residents rather than promote a more inclusive and participatory democracy. Immigrant New Yorkers deserve a say in how their local government functions and spends their tax money, and we remain committed to ensuring the expansion of voting rights.”

voting booth

The ruling comes as New York City is grappling with a surge in migrants that has resulted in an uptick in crime and anger from residents. In December, Adams warned that the city was at its “breaking point” as city resources and shelter services had become strained.

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