Legal Immigrants Cast Votes in ‘Mock Election’

A voter casts his sample ballot at Diversity Plaza on Election Day. (Photo from United Neighborhood Houses's Facebook page)

A voter casts his sample ballot at Diversity Plaza on Election Day. (Photo from United Neighborhood Houses’s Facebook page)

At a mock election in Jackson Heights on Election Day, legal immigrants cast their votes with the hope that next Election Day, they’ll be doing it for real.

At Diversity Plaza, 342 people voted, and many citizens signed letters of support that will be sent to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, encouraging him to pass legislation that would allow legal, documented residents to vote in city elections. The results of the mock election? Bill de Blasio won by a landslide, getting 84 percent of the vote.

Kevin Douglas, a policy advisor at United Neighborhood Houses who helped organize the event, said the turnout was less than expected, but those who did partake got a real glimpse of what voting in the United States is like.

“People were very excited, they were posing for pictures with family and friends, saying ‘Hey look, I’m voting!'” he said. The event was put on by iVote NYC, a coalition of organizations who support the proposed legislation, called NYC Voting Rights Restoration Act of 2010.

But not all non-citizens were eager to vote, said Douglas. Some didn’t feel comfortable or weren’t sure it was okay to cast a vote, and some felt they didn’t know enough about the candidates. Also, while Spanish and Nepali were offered at the election site, a few people faced language barriers.

Almost 1 million legal residents in New York City are currently ineligible to vote, and in Jackson Heights, 55 percent of residents are ineligible.

Though Mayor-elect de Blasio has said that he is not comfortable with the bill, Douglas said the voting coalition will continue to reach out to City Council members to get the bill on their radar, and they hope that it will be passed within the first six months of 2014.

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  1. Pingback: Should 1 Million Legal Residents Have Right to Vote in NYC? - The Haitian Times | The Haitian Times

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