New York City Mayor Eric Adams allows non-citizen voting bill to become law

Unless a judge suspends its proceedings, New York City is the first major U.S. city. to grant widespread local voting rights to non-citizens.

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More than 800,000 non-citizens and "dreamers" in New York City will be able to enter the ballot box - and can vote in local government elections early next year - after Mayor Eric Adams allowed the law to become law on Sunday.

Opponents have vowed to oppose the new law, which was approved by the city council last month. Unless a judge suspends its proceedings, New York City is the first major U.S. city. to provide widespread municipal voting rights to non-citizens.

More than a dozen communities across the U.S. already allows non-citizens to vote in local elections, which include 11 cities in Maryland and two in Vermont.

Non-citizens would not be able to vote for the president or members of Congress in the party elections, or in the provincial elections that elect the governor, judges and legislatures.

The Electoral Board should now begin drafting a roll-out plan in July, which includes voter registration rules and provisions that could result in a variety of municipal race votes to prevent non-citizens from voting in state and provincial competitions.

At the time of the city's most populous city, where it is officially registered, non-voting citizens make up about one in nine of the city's 7-year-old voting population. The organization to win voting rights for non-citizens was successful after many setbacks.

The move will allow non-citizens to become official citizens of the city for at least 30 days, as well as those authorized to work in the US, including "Dreamers," to help elect city mayors, city council members, district presidents, administrator and public representative.

The first election in which non-citizens will be allowed to vote is in 2023.

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"We are building a strong democracy if we include the voice of foreigners," said former City Councilor Ydanis Rodriguez, who led the case to legalize the law.

Rodriguez, who was appointed by Adams as his transport commissioner, thanked the mayor for his support and expected strong defense against any legal challenges.

Adams recently expressed doubts about the law when he expressed concern about the standard of living, but later said that such concerns did not mean he would oppose the bill.

Although there were questions about whether Adams could make the bill into law, the 30-day deadline for the mayor to take action ended at midnight.

Adams said he was looking forward to the law which will bring millions more to the democratic system.

"I believe the people of New York should have a say in their government, which is why I still have it and will continue to support this important law," Adams said in a statement released on Saturday night. He added that his previous concerns had been resolved after he had called for meaningful discussions with his colleagues.

Former Mayor Bill de Blasio had similar concerns but did not continue to oppose the move before leaving City Hall at the end of the year.

Opponents say the council does not have the authority to grant non-citizens' voting rights, and should have first sought action from state attorneys.

Other states, including Alabama, Arizona, Colorado and Florida, have adopted laws that would block any attempts to pass laws similar to those in New York City.