New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Queens) is leading an effort to draft legislation to let non-citizens vote in New York City’s municipal elections. Though the final details have not been worked out and a bill has not yet been introduced in the city council, advance discussion of the legislation reveals that it would provide voting privileges to documented residents who have lived in New York City for at least six months. Such individuals would not be allowed to vote in state or federal elections.
Members of the city council are reportedly discussing the legislation with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, and a bill might be introduced before summer. The 51-member council currently has 48 Democrats and only three Republicans. De Blasio is a Democrat.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper, which covered the story more thoroughly than the New York press, quoted Dromm as saying, “Enfranchising non-citizens would make communities like mine more important to city-wide and state officials. We can’t ignore them if they can vote.”
Dromm’s attempt to have similar legislation passed in 2013 was not successful. In that attempt, he won the support of 35 of the city council’s members, forming a veto-proof majority. However, he faced opposition from then-council speaker Christine Quinn — a Democrat — as well as opposition from then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had left the Republican Party to serve as an independent. “[Quinn] and [Bloomberg] didn’t want [the legislation] to go forward,” Dromm said. “The speaker exerted power over the council’s committees.”
Advocates of the legislation assert that legal immigrants should have the right to vote.