A law that would have allowed noncitizens to vote in local elections in New York City was struck down by a State Supreme Court justice in Staten Island who said it violated the State Constitution.
The measure, which was passed by the City Council in December, would have allowed more than 800,000 green card holders or permanent legal residents to vote for offices such as mayor and City Council.
But Justice Ralph J. Porzio ruled on Monday that the new law conflicted with constitutional guidelines that only eligible citizens can vote. To give noncitizens a right to vote would require a referendum, the judge wrote.
The law was not set to go into effect until January of next year, and the ruling will have no effect on Tuesday’s primary election in New York.
The legislation placed New York City at the forefront of a national debate about voting rights, as some states began to expand eligibility while others went in the other direction, moving to explicitly bar noncitizens from voting.
State and federal Republican Party leaders, as well as a handful of local Republican officials, had challenged the law.
“Today’s decision validates those of us who can read the plain English words of our State Constitution and State statutes,” said Joseph Borelli, a Republican councilman from Staten Island who was one of the plaintiffs. “Noncitizen voting in New York is illegal.”
City officials are “evaluating next steps,” said Fabien Levy, a spokesman for Mayor Eric Adams. Mr. Adams initially strongly supported the legislation but did not sign it into law when he became mayor; his inaction allowed the bill to automatically become law.
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