New York City’s law extending voting rights in municipal elections to noncitizens who are legally allowed to live, work and go to school in the five boroughs violates the New York State Constitution, according to a ruling issued by Justice Ralph Porzio in the Richmond County State Supreme Court on Monday.
Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella was the lead among a group of predominantly Republican plaintiffs who south of the city after the new law was enacted in January, arguing it would change how they needed to campaign. A group of voters who were plaintiffs in the suit also claimed their votes would be diluted by the new law, which was set to allow upwards of 800,000 new voters to register and vote in local elections starting in 2023.
In his ruling, Porzio sided with the plaintiffs, adding the measure also violated New York State election law and the municipal home rule law.
“The New York State Constitution expressly states that citizens meeting the age and residency requirements are entitled to register and vote in elections,” Porzio wrote in his ruling, emphasizing the word “citizens.” New York State election law reaffirms this right is granted to only citizens, he wrote, and the city was exceeding its constitutionally granted authority by attempting to extend the right to non-citizens.
“Though voting is a right so many citizens take for granted, the City of New York cannot ‘obviate’ the restrictions imposed by the Constitution,” Porzio added.
The judge also affirmed the arguments made by plaintiffs that “the weight of the citizens’ vote will be diluted by municipal voters and candidates and political parties alike will need to reconfigure their campaigns.”
He framed his decision as a forewarning: “Though Plaintiffs have not suffered harm today, the harm they will suffer is imminent.”
Proponents of the law including LatinoJustice, who joined the lawsuit in support of intervening defendants who would be directly affected by the new law, said they planned to move forward with an appeal to the Appellate Division, Second Department.
A spokesperson for the City Law Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.