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Only a Matter of Time
2021-09-22

            The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

            Article II of the New York State Constitution reads: "Every citizen shall be entitled to vote at every election for all officers elected by the people and upon all questions submitted to the vote of the people provided that such citizen is eighteen years of age or over and shall have been a resident of this state, and of the county, city, or village for thirty days next preceding an election."

            The keyword in both is "citizen".

            It's always good to know what's going on around us.

            In New York City, a bill by Councilman Ydanis Rodriquez wants to supersede state law and give green card and work visa holders the right to vote in local elections. Rodriquez immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic at age 18.

            This is not an attack on the councilman, who was named Time Magazine's Man of the Year in 2011 and has a decent track record in city government.  Just this particular proposal.

            The proposal, if passed, would allow people who live in New York City and are legal permanent US residents (green card holders) or have visas that allow them to work in the US to be eligible to vote in elections for mayor, comptroller, public advocate, borough president and city council member.

            The bill was debated at a hearing on Monday and received the support of 34 of 51 council members, which is enough to pass. Rodriquez was quoted in a city newspaper as saying, "If people have a problem with this, then they should move to another town or another country that has not been built by immigrants."

            Really?

            In 2014, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation making the Big Apple a "sanctuary city", banning cooperation with federal immigration authorities regarding undocumented people.

            Only a veto on his part would keep the proposed voting bill from passing.

            During Monday's hearing, the city's chief democracy officer, Laura Wood, declined to take a position on the proposed legislation but opined that the bill would probably violate Article II, Section 1 of the state constitution.

            Voting is one of our most cherished rights and privileges, even though turnout figures in some elections don't show it.

            The fact that it is even being attempted should draw a level of concern, especially with the numbers of immigrants currently crossing our borders (legally or illegally).  There are elected officials, currently holding office, who may be thinking about attempting the same thing.  Remember, we don't elect representatives from outside of our districts and know little about them.

            Would a move like this diminish the incentive for immigrants to make the commitment to the United States and become citizens?

            It's begun in New York, it could only be a matter of time before the idea spreads.


 

 

 

 

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