NEW YORK - No taxation without representation: that's the argument some council members are using to push for giving the right to vote in municipal elections to immigrant New Yorkers with green cards and working permits.
"Expanding voting rights, embracing the brothers and sisters who pay their taxes, who contribute to our economy, that they should also have the right to elect their local leaders," said Manhattan Councilmember Ydanis Rodríguez.
The bill, to be introduced in the Council on Thursday, is not new. For almost three decades, New York has debated this issue. About one million New Yorkers could benefit from it.
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"I believe that when we enfranchise people to vote you are going to see a greater turnout, especially among our immigrant communities, and when you involve people like that, I think they take better care of their communities. They want to participate in their communities and I think that's a good thing for everyone," Queens Councilmember Daniel Dromm said.
The main sponsors say they have the support of more than 20 of their colleagues in the Council. And also with them, the Public Advocate. But critics say the city should be encouraging people to become citizens instead.
"If you already have the right to vote as a non-citizen, why would you become a United States citizen? You don't need to at that point,” Queens Councilmember Eric Ulrich said.
Ulrich also thinks the implementation would be chaotic.
"I think it would be very confusing for people who have legal status to walk into a poll site and only be allowed to vote for their borough president candidate, or city council member, or mayor but not have the right to choose who represents them in Albany or in the halls of Congress," he added.
There are also questions about whether the city has the authority to change election law on its own.
"There's no doubt we are going to need the partnership of the state, which is why we are proposing this bill, and it's going to begin the discussion, and we are going to have to work with Albany," Brooklyn Councilmember Carlos Menchaca said.
In the past, Mayor de Blasio has said he would be open to a debate on this issue.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is waiting to review the legislation before commenting on it.