Republican leaders in New York City today filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to stop a new local law granting voting rights to non-citizens.
The lawsuit comes about a month after the City Council passed legislation that would grant an estimated 800,000 permanent residents and DREAMers the right to vote in municipal elections. Mayor Eric Adams allowed the measure to become law by not issuing a veto yesterday.
Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella, U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn), and Councilmembers Inna Vernikov (R-Brooklyn), Joann Ariola (R-Queens), and Vickie Paladino (R-Queens) were among party leaders who sued in Staten Island State Supreme Court.
They are seeking to block the Non-Citizen Voting Law, claiming it violates articles II and IX of the New York State Constitution as well as State Election Law and Municipal Home Rule Law. They argue section 5-102 (1) of chapter 17 New York election law defines a voter as “a citizen of the United States.”
They also argue that allowing non-citizens to vote dilutes the voices of Americans and a majority of New Yorkers don’t think that’s fair.
“This unconstitutional act cheapens what it means to be a citizen and is an insult to every immigrant who has followed the law, taken citizenship classes, and swore an oath to our nation. That is why, as promised today we are filing suit to challenge this law,” said Fossella.
The law provides a shortcut to voting rights, argued Ariola, and immigrants who have gone through the process to obtain citizenship may not like what Democratic leaders in the city have done.
“Voting is the right of American citizens,” said an Ariola spokesperson. “We need to address immigration by working hard so that immigrants who come here can readily become citizens and be able to vote.”
City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) said, “Anyone reading NY state election law in plain English can see that it prohibits foreign citizen voting.”
The lawsuit, filed through Albany-based attorney Cornelius D. Murray, argues that the state constitution only allows citizens of the United States to participate in the election of local representatives.
The suit further argues this new law creates a new class of non-citizen “municipal voters” and was not approved via a public referendum as required by Municipal Home Rule Law.
The Republicans are seeking immediate injunctive relief until the courts ultimately decide the matter.