Voting on Election Day shouldn’t be limited to citizens. New York City gets that.
Noncitizen voting is a matter of basic fairness. People who live, work and pay taxes in our communities should have a say in how they are governed.
By Tali Farhadian Weinstein, former federal and state prosecutor | 1 November 2021
NEWSWEEK — On Tuesday, millions of people across the country who could have the right to vote won’t be able to. Nearly 14 million legal permanent residents, not to mention hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers, have made their homes here and should be able to weigh in on local elections that have a direct effect on their everyday lives.
The New York City council is poised to allow this to happen, and to set a national example for how we integrate noncitizens into our communities. Last month the council held hearings on a bill that would allow certain noncitizens — lawful residents who have lived in the city for more than 30 days — to vote in city elections. In other words, any New Yorker with a green card could cast a vote for mayor, council member, comptroller and other local elected officials. The bill’s sponsors have a veto-proof majority, and support from Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee to be the city’s next mayor. The council should pass the bill before its term ends this year.
And then the rest of the country should follow suit.
Right now, noncitizen voting is quite rare — so rare that it may sound exotic, or even unconstitutional. In fact, noncitizen voting is older than the republic itself. It was universal in colonial times and remained through the 18th and 19th centuries. What’s new is the argument that only citizens should vote, an idea that took hold in the early 20th century when a rash of nativist and racist local laws were passed to disenfranchise African Americans, Jews, Italians and others deemed “inferior” to the “white” population. […]