(Headline USA) More than 800,000 noncitizens and “Dreamers” in New York City will have access to the ballot box after Mayor Eric Adams allowed legislation to automatically become law Sunday.
Opponents have vowed to challenge the new law. Unless a judge halts its implementation, New York City could be first major U.S. city to grant widespread municipal voting rights to noncitizens.
More than a dozen communities across the U.S. already allow noncitizens to cast ballots in local elections, including 11 towns in Maryland and two in Vermont.
Noncitizens still wouldn’t be able to vote for president or members of Congress in federal races, or in the state elections that pick the governor, judges and legislators.
The Board of Elections must now begin drawing an implementation plan by July, including voter registration rules and provisions that would create separate ballots for municipal races to prevent noncitizens from casting ballots in federal and state contests.
The first elections in which noncitizens would be allowed to vote are in 2023.
While there was some question whether Adams could stop the bill from becoming law, the 30-day time limit for the mayor to take action expired before he made an official call.
“I believe that New Yorkers should have a say in their government, which is why I have and will continue to support this important legislation,” Adams said in a statement. He added that his earlier concerns were put at ease after what he called productive dialogue with colleagues.
Former Mayor Bill de Blasio had similar concerns but did not move to veto the measure before vacating City Hall at the end of the year.
Opponents of the bill have pointed out that city council lacks the authority on its own to grant voting rights to noncitizens and should have first sought action by state lawmakers.
Some states, including Alabama, Arizona, Colorado and Florida, have adopted rules that would preempt any attempts to pass laws like the one in New York City.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press