Coalition Launches to Expand the Right to Vote in NYC Municipal Elections

*Press Release*

United Neighborhood Houses, the New York Immigration Coalition, and partners announce support for legislation to expand and protect municipal voting rights

New York, NY—A citywide coalition of 45  policy and immigrant rights organizations led by United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) and the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) announced today during a rally at City Hall the launch of Our City, Our Vote, a campaign to expand the right to vote in municipal elections to New York residents who are legal permanent residents or have a work authorization. Currently, nearly one million New York City residents cannot vote in local elections due to their citizenship status, despite paying taxes and being invested in and contributing to the city.

"We live in a moment when reactionary forces are throwing up barriers to the right to vote, and the President lies about voter fraud,” said Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “Yet nearly one million New Yorkers are denied the right to vote. They legally live here, work here, go to school here, and are raising families here. Yet, despite paying billions of dollars in taxes, they have no say in the direction of our city. The Our City, Our Vote bill presents an opportunity to right that wrong to create a more inclusive 21st century democracy that works for every New Yorker. In New York City, the quintessential city of immigrants, democracy should be inclusive and reflective of the people who call it home."

Introduced by Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez, Carlos Menchaca, Daniel Dromm, Margaret S. Chin, I. Daneek Miller, Fernando Cabrera, with support from 20 other Council Members and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, this legislation would allow these New Yorkers to participate in municipal elections for local officials, such as City Council Members, Mayor, Public Advocate, and Comptroller, as well as ballot initiatives. Individuals must have been a resident of New York City for at least 30 days and otherwise must qualify to register and vote under New York State election law. The legislation also includes key safeguards such as robust community education, training for poll workers and agency staff who may be handing out voter registration forms, and the ability of a voter to opt out of registering if they did so by mistake. 

“New York City leads the country in promoting the inclusion and empowerment of immigrants, but too many New Yorkers still don’t have a say in the officials that represent them and the policies that impact their families and communities,” said Susan Stamler, executive director of UNH. “Settlement houses know firsthand that ensuring neighborhoods are politically engaged results in better public policies that make our city stronger. We are proud to be a part of this campaign and call on the City Council to pass this legislation.”