Payam Javan: After Mayor Eric Adams authorized legislation to automatically become law on Sunday, more than 800,000 noncitizens and “Dreamers” in New York City will have access to the ballot box – and might vote in municipal elections as early as next year.
“Dreamers” are young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children and would qualify for the DREAM Act or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which permits them to stay in the country if they meet specific conditions.
Opponents have promised to sue over the new law, which was approved by the City Council a month ago. New York City will become the first major U.S. city to provide widespread municipal voting rights to noncitizens unless a judge intervenes.
Noncitizens can already vote in local elections in more than a dozen places in the United States, including 11 towns in Maryland and two in Vermont.
Noncitizens would still be unable to vote in federal elections for president or members of Congress, as well as in-state elections for governors, judges, and legislators.
The Board of Elections now has until July to prepare an implementation plan, which must include voter registration rules and provisions that would create separate ballots for municipal elections to prevent non-citizens from voting in federal and state elections.