Between 500,000 and 1 million nonresidents of New York City could vote in the next local elections if legislation drafted by New York City Council members is passed, which was introduced onThursday, Jan. 23.
The measure led by Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and 22 other Democratic councilors, as well as the city’s public defender, Jumaane Williams, aims to give electoral power to the 3.1 million foreign-born people residing in the city, who also make up 40% of New York’s total population.
According to Breitbart News, the majority of those foreign-born living in the city are from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Bangladesh, India, and China.
More than half of the immigrant population speaks only Spanish or Chinese, and 50 percent of those foreign-born people do not speak English.
Rodriguez said the project was intended to “making democracy better,” stating that he “will invite anyone who wants to be a leader in this city to connect to these voters,” according to the New York Daily News.
However, as a New York Post editorial points out, “citizenship should mean something, and the right to vote is a big part of it,” indicating that the exercise of the vote for those foreign citizens means a “vital acceptance of duties as well as privileges” of someone naturalized as a citizen.
The measure caused discomfort among several Republican and moderate Democratic lawmakers, who said it not only demeans the voting rights of U.S. citizens, but also is politically motivated to boost campaigns in far-left elections, according to The New York Post.
Kalman Yeger, a Democratic councilman from Brooklyn, was quoted as saying, “It’s not progressive to tell legal residents of the United States that citizenship has no value.”
Republican Councilman Joe Borelli, said that just as proponents of the bill are serious about changing the City Charter, they should also put the measure on a ballot as a referendum for voters to decide.
“This way, it could not be seen as a political ploy to help any candidates now running for city office, and it gives the current citizen voters the opportunity to choose whether or not to dilute their own voice,” said Borelli, who believes the bill “devalues” the citizenry.
The bill, which awaits review and approval by the 51-member city council, would not qualify noncitizens to vote in national or state elections.