Judge invalidates NYC law permitting noncitizen residents to vote in local elections

In a significant victory for the rule of law, a state judge in New York state struck down a provision passed late last that would have permitted upwards of a million noncitizen residents of New York City to vote in municipal elections, as Fox News reports.

According to the outlet, the law at issue essentially established a new class of so-called “municipal voters” made up of noncitizens allowed to participate in local elections, provided that they resided in the Big Apple for at least 30 days prior to such contests and were registered to vote.

Such voters, the new law stated, would have the right to cast ballots for the offices of mayor, comptroller, public advocate, council member and borough president, and given the fact that neither former Mayor Bill de Blasio nor current Mayor Eric Adams signed or vetoed the City Council’s measure, it went into effect automatically.

Invalidating the measure this week was Richmond County Supreme Court Judge Ralph Porzio, who said in his ruling that “[t]he New York State Constitution explicitly lays the foundation for ascertaining that only proper citizens retain the right to voter privileges.”

“It is this Court’s belief that by not expressly including non-citizens in the New York State Constitution, it was the intent of the framers for non-citizens to be omitted,” Porzio added.

The judge’s decision represents a major win for a group of local officeholders whose lawsuit against city officials was joined by the New York Republican State Committee as well as the Republican National Committee, and in it, he also cited a provision within the state’s election law declaring U.S. citizenship to be a prerequisite to voter registration, as well as the Municipal Home Rule Law.

Expressing disappointment with the outcome, according to ABC News, was Murad Awawdeh of the New York Immigration Coalition, who pledged that his organization would continue working to “ensure that nearly 1 million New Yorkers who are building their lives here and investing in our communities can have a say in their local democracy.”

Republican City Council Minority Leader Joseph Borelli, however, hailed the ruling, declaring, “Today’s decision validates those of us who can read the plain English words of our state constitution and state statues: Noncitizen voting in New York is illegal, and shame on those who thought they could skirt the law for political gain.”

The New York City Law Department issued a statement through a spokesperson indicating that its team is currently in the process of “evaluating next steps,” and, according to ABC, an appeal of the ruling is likely.