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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Non-Citizen Voting Amnesty Bill Considered In New York City

The nation's largest city may soon have a new and large voting bloc: non-citizens.

A bill to allow non-citizens, who are legally present in the country, to vote in municipal New York City elections is being considered by the New York City City Council's Committee on Immigration today.  This bill, originally introduced in 2010, has been co-sponsored by a majority of the City Council and would increase the number of registered voters in New York City with those who are visa holders or permanent residents (those with "green cards").  

The language of the bill would allow anyone who has been "lawfully present" in the City for at least six months by the date of the election to vote in a City election for citywide offices and city council representatives.

Of course, the existing status quo gives lip service to the citizenship requirement for voting, as enforcement and efforts at detection are virtually nonexistent.  In short, the citizenship requirement is presently honored in the breach.  This bill would therefore ratify a system of illegal voting already in place.

I believe this bill, if passed and enforced, would pose Constitutional issues and would be ripe for a court challenge.  Allowing non-citizens to vote presents the risk of vote dilution of the votes of citizens.  

The practical effects of this bill are alarming.  If one presumes that non-citizens consist primarily of low-income, less-educated people, the bill increases the number of voters who can vote for candidates who will promise (and deliver to) them an increased amount of government services.  The burden upon the tax base -- employees, homeowners and small business owners, this means you -- will grow.  And the impetus for these groups to leave New York City will similarly increase.

New York City is already a heavily Democratic city, so the need for this bill to achieve a power shift is not readily apparent along political party fault lines.  However, within the electorate and particularly within each political party (particularly the Democratic and Working Families Parties), a change in the composition of a party's voters can result in a competitive advantage for candidates who can mobilize noncitizens to be an effective voting bloc.  Then again, I suspect this has long been happening already but no one has been checking regularly on the citizenship status of newly registered voters.

This is horrid public policy and can only lead to a deteriorating, slowly imploding New York City.

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