Right to Vote Seen Close to Reality for NYC Legal Residents

Both El Diario La Prensa and Queens Latino covered a proposed bill being discussed in the City Council this week which will give legal residents the right to vote in municipal elections, including the race for mayor later this year. The articles are excerpted and translated below.

The Queens Latino story by Javier Castaño, headlined “The Right to Vote for Legal Residents Becomes a Reality in NYC,” was the most optimistic of the two, assuring readers that the measure is a shoo-in.

After a 10-year struggle, the right to vote in municipal elections is starting to become a reality for legal residents. This Thursday, May 9, at 1 p.m. the City Council will hold the first public hearing on the measure.

“We invite the community to testify because New Yorkers with green cards have that right,” said David Andersson, who came up with the idea and had councilman Daniel Dromm sponsor the bill. Andersson is also the director of the New York City Chapter of the Humanist Party. His wife, Yolanda Andersson, has also been part of the process.

Latino and Asian activists came out to Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights to show support for Intro 410. (Photo by Javier Castaño via Queens Latino)

Thirty-six city council members have signed their names in support of the bill, known as Intro 410. Which means that it already has the majority necessary, in addition to the support of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. The hearing will take place in Lower Manhattan at 250 Broadway on the 14th floor.

To promote the public hearing and motivate the immigrant community, a gathering was held at Diversity Plaza on 37th Road and 74th Street in Jackson Heights. Mostly Latino and Asian activists participated. There was Indian tea and Peruvian folk dancing.

“We have to obtain the right to vote for legal immigrants to improve our communities,” said Mazeda A. Addin, the national women’s organizer for the Alliance of South Asian American Labor.

Teresa Arrieta of La Fuente said her organization endorses the bill “because it’s out right; we pay taxes in this city.”

Leandra Requena of Peruanos en Acción said, “We also consume and contribute to the city’s economy.”

Imam Qazi Qayyoom, of the Muhammadi Community Center of Jackson Heights, said that when the City Council passes the bill, “it will be the most important victory for the immigrant community.”

Legal residents can vote in local elections in various cities across the globe. Legal residents used to have that right in New York City, but it was taken away by politicians and will be re-instated if David Andersson achieves his goal.

El Diario-La Prensa was more cautious in a piece by Marlene Peralta, “Immigrants with Green Cards Could Vote in NYC.”

The City Council is once again getting ready to examine a bill that would give immigrants with legal residency the right to vote in municipal elections.

Although the bill was initially presented in 2006 and a second time in 2010 without positive results, its proponents are very optimistic since this time around, they have garnered support from at least 35 City Council members.

“For the first time in the history of this initiative, we have a veto-proof bill,” said Queens Councilman Daniel Dromm, the bill’s main sponsor. This means they would have more than the 34 signatures needed to override a possible veto by mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has expressed opposition in the past.

The measure would give around 1.3 million permanent residents the right to vote in elections for mayor, City Council, and public advocate. According to the NY Coalition to Expand Voting Rights, legal residents contribute about $229 billion in state taxes without being able to decide how that income will be spent.

Ronald Hayduk, political science professor at Queens College and founder of the coalition backing the initiative, said enfranchising immigrants isn’t a new concept.

“This used to be common practice in 40 states across the country,” he explained. “It was based on our nation’s core beliefs: no taxation without representation.”

However, not everyone is so confident.

“It’s a good idea, but I don’t think the current circumstances favor it. It will be challenging to pass this bill, especially after what happened in Boston,” said political analyst Angelo Falcón. “I could be mistaken, but there are many people who don’t understand the measure.”

The leading argument against the bill is that citizens are the only ones who should have the right to vote.

The bill will be presented Thursday, May 9 before the City Council’s Committee on Immigration, headed by Dromm, and the Committee on Governmental Operations, lead by Gale Brewer, who also backs it. If the bill is passed by both committees, the next step would be to present it before the entire City Council, which would then make the final decision.

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  1. Pingback: Press and Photos from May 9 Rally and Hearings in NYC for Intro 410

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