Black residents of New York filed a lawsuit Monday arguing that the city’s attempt to allow non-citizens to vote in municipal elections is unconstitutional because it was a “racially motivated” move to shift political power away from black residents to other racial or ethnic minorities.
The suit, brought by the Public Interest Legal Foundation on behalf of four residents, says the councilors who wrote the law last year made explicit racial appeals, saying they wanted to change “the color of the skin” of people voting in elections. . .
And that hurts Black voters in particular, because the new noncitizen voters will be overwhelmingly Hispanic and Asian, and are expected to dilute the strength of Blacks in a city where voting is divided along racial lines, the plaintiffs said.
“Elections in New York City are racially polarized. The addition of nearly a million foreign-citizen voters, coupled with the existence of a racially polarized vote, will negatively impact the voting strength of black voters to a significant degree,” the city’s black residents said in their demand.
The new lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, joins other ongoing legal challenges to the city’s policy.
Earlier this summer, a state judge issued a ruling halting the new voting plans, ruling that they went against the state constitution.
At the federal level, there is a ban on non-citizens voting in federal elections, but states are free to set requirements for voters on state and local issues.
A growing movement seeks to ban non-citizen voting in state laws and constitutions, but there is also significant push by immigrant rights advocates to expand voting to non-citizens.
New York was the crown jewel in that latest effort, with advocates estimating that roughly 900,000 non-citizen residents could have registered.
The city’s program would have allowed non-citizens with some claim to legal status to vote. That would have included “Dreamer” illegal immigrants and those here with Temporary Protected Status who are in the country without legal status but have nonetheless been granted a stay of deportation and permission to work by the government.
Non-citizen voting is allowed in local elections in some small communities in Maryland and Vermont, and San Francisco allows it for school board elections. But according to data obtained by The Washington Times, few non-citizens actually vote.
PILF and the four black residents who sued Monday said the New York law’s racial effects are so broad that they conflict with the 15th Amendment to the US Constitution, which prohibits restricting the right to vote.” for reasons of race.”