New York Court Strikes Down NYC Noncitizen Voting

A New York state court ruled Monday that the New York City law enacted last December that allows some noncitizens to vote in city elections violates the state constitution and is illegal.

The New York City law created a class of voters described as “municipal voters.” That class includes noncitizens who have lived inside the city for at least 30 days before an election and have registered or pre-registered to vote in a city election. The law allows the municipal voters to vote in elections for city council, mayor, public advocate, comptroller, and borough presidents.

Richmond County Supreme Court Judge Ralph Porzio issued a written ruling setting out the provision of the state constitution stating that “only proper citizens retain the right to voter privileges.” The ruling provides that the framers of the state constitution intended for “non-citizens to be omitted” from the description of persons eligible to vote in any election in the state.

The law was enacted without the signature of either former Mayor Bill de Blasio or current Mayor Eric Adams. Di Blasio previously spoke publicly about his concerns over the law, saying there were “big legal questions” about its validity. He also said he believed the law would remove incentives for the city’s up to 1 million noncitizens to go through the necessary steps to become citizens.

The legal case was brought by the Republican National and New York State Committees along with several city officeholders and citizen voters who sued city officials responsible for overseeing the law.

The complaint filed in the case argues that the city law violates state election law and the Municipal Home Rule Law in addition to the state constitution. It also claims that noncitizen voting unconstitutionally dilutes the legal votes of citizens.

In addition to the provisions of the state constitution, Judge Porzio found the city law violates the New York Election Law, which explicitly provides that only citizens of the United States are eligible to register to vote anywhere in the state.

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) represents Staten Island in Congress, where the lawsuit was filed. She declared the ruling a “victory for preserving the integrity and security of our elections.” She added that the city government should be “working to create more trust in our elections, not less.”

The ruling was issued by the New York Supreme Court, which is a trial-level court in the New York state judicial system. The ruling could be appealed by the city to the appellate division and could go from there to the New York Court of Appeals, which is the state’s highest appeals court.

A spokesperson for the city’s law department described the ruling as “disappointing for people who value bringing in thousands more New Yorkers into the democratic process.” The city said it is “evaluating next steps.”