NYC Files Appeal in Noncitizen Voter Case, Keeping the Fight Alive to Enfranchise Nearly 1 Million New Voters
Brigid Bergin, Gothamist, July 22, 2022
The city is doubling down on its support for a new law that would extend voting rights to certain noncitizens.
Last month, a Staten Island judge ruled that the law, which would allow people legally living and working in the city to vote in local elections, violates the state constitution and state election law.
Friday, the New York City Law Department filed a notice that it will appeal with the Appellate Division, Second Department. The move breathes new life into the fight to enfranchise nearly 1 million new voters starting next year.
The law, known as local law 11, would extend voting rights in elections for offices including mayor, city comptroller, public advocate, City Council and borough president. It would also require the city Board of Elections to set up a new voter registration process for these municipal voters.
There had been growing concern among advocates over whether the city would join them in appealing Richmond County State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio’s ruling. The deadline to file a notice of appeal is Wednesday. Those advocates, who had joined the lawsuit on behalf of individuals who would gain voting rights, had already vowed to appeal are included in the claim.
Supporters including Councilmember Shahana Hanif, who chairs the Immigration Committee, applauded the city’s move.
That sentiment was echoed by attorneys from LatinoJustice, a nonprofit civil rights organization that had joined the lawsuit on behalf of individual New Yorkers who would gain new voting rights under the law.
“The City’s decision to appeal this matter reaffirms the need and importance of protecting the right to vote in municipal elections for close to one million New Yorkers,” said Fulvia Vargas-De León, associate counsel for LatinoJustice. She said her group intends to fight for its clients’ rights to participate in the democratic process “and to support the law’s constitutionality.”
“We’re going to continue fighting for our democracy even in the face of divisive partisan attacks,” said Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, one of the lead organizations mobilizing support for this law.
To begin understanding what voters need to know about the new law, the CFB hired a research firm to do an initial survey of New York City residents who would be newly eligible to vote under the law. They found that 84% of respondents said they would certainly or most likely vote when eligible.