Advocates Respond To Court Decision On Non-Citizen Voting Law

New York, NY—In response in the Richmond County Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate the Our City, Our Vote law (Local Law 11-2022), which gave New Yorkers with legal permanent status or work authorization the right to vote in municipal elections, immigrant advocates and New Yorkers and elected officials released the following statements:

Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition:
“The decision to overturn Local Law 11 by this lower court in Staten Island comes as no surprise to us, because the Republican opponents to the law specifically placed their lawsuit in a court they knew would be favorable to them. In spite of today’s court decision, we will keep fighting to ensure that the nearly one million New Yorkers who are building their lives here and are investing in our communities can have a say in their local democracy. We remain firm in our certitude that municipal voting is legal and plan to support the appeal of this judge’s decision. We refuse to allow today’s verdict to further the disenfranchisement of Black and brown communities in New York City.”

Susan Stamler, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses:
“We are deeply disappointed in the Richmond County Supreme Court’s decision today around Local Law 11. United Neighborhood Houses has supported expanding the right to vote to immigrants for over a decade, and will continue to support this law throughout the appeals process. We must make sure that more New Yorkers have a say over what happens in their neighborhoods and cannot let this verdict silence the voices of immigrant New Yorkers.”

Fulvia Vargas de Leon, Associate Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF:
“Today’s court decision disenfranchises almost a million New Yorkers and attacks the very core of our representative democracy. The right to vote extended by Local Law 11 presented an opportunity to remedy the contradiction between calling so many immigrant workers essential, asking them to risk their lives to keep the city going, while denying them a voice in local government that makes vital decisions about their lives. LatinoJustice PRLDEF is deeply disappointed that the court has chosen to deny access to the franchise to people so integral to the functioning of our city. LatinoJustice and our legal partners look to appealing the decision and restoring the right to vote to fellow New Yorkers who deserve that right.”

“Today, a court in Staten Island decided that nearly one million New Yorkers who live and work here legally should have no say in how local government affects them or their families,” said Council Member Sandra Ung. “These are our neighbors who support our city through their tax dollars. By overturning Local Law 11, a judge has ruled that they have no voice in how their kids are schooled or the parks in their neighborhoods are maintained. I am fully behind an appeal of this decision and confident that when the case is heard, the legality of municipal voting will be upheld.”

“Today is a dark day for democracy in New York City. While Republican legislatures across the country have restricted the right to vote, our City fought to expand this important right. But today is a disappointing setback,” said Immigration Chair, Council Member Shahana Hanif. “While the courts may follow outdated and xenophobic precedent ingrained in the very fabric of our constitution, we know that our immigrant neighbors deserve a voice in our democracy. They are just as much a part of our City as each and every one of us and their exclusion from voting is yet another form of racist gerrymandering. This decision is a setback to our vision of a free and open society, but it is not the end. We will continue to fight for all New Yorkers.”

“The court’s decision to strike down the historic Our City, Our Vote legislation (Local Law 11-2022) is a severe blow to our City’s democratic process and its institutions,” said Council Member Crystal Hudson. “Across the five boroughs, there are close to one million people who pay taxes and contribute to the wellbeing of our communities, yet have no say in municipal elections. Fighting to include these voices in our electoral process is a responsibility we cannot shy away from. In light of this decision, we must continue to organize and advocate for the disproportionately Black and brown New Yorkers whose voices are not taken into account. Until we secure a just, equitable, and truly representative future, we will not stop fighting to include all New Yorkers.”

“All of our neighbors should have a say in how the City responds to the needs of the communities,” said Ben Thomases, Executive Director of Queens Community House. “Many of the individuals and families we serve continue to contribute to the city’s economic, cultural, and social expansion but have been unable to vote on policies affecting their daily lives. Immigrants across Queens and the rest of New York City deserve to have a voice in our democracy.”

CAIR-NY Legal Director Ahmed Mohamed:
“CAIR-NY is deeply disappointed by the court’s decision to invalidate Local Law 11—a law that represented the largest enfranchisement of voters in our city’s history in over a century. We believe this case was wrongly decided, and the decision strikes at the core of our democracy and values as a city of immigrants. CAIR-NY and our legal partners will appeal this decision, and we are confident that the appellate courts will restore the right to vote for all immigrant New Yorkers enfranchised by Local Law 11. CAIR-NY and the thousands of Muslim New Yorkers impacted are not deterred and remain firm in our commitment to immigrant voting rights.”

Women Creating Change’s President and CEO, Carole Wacey and Senior Program and Policy Manager, Lea Giddins:
“Women Creating Change has been fighting to expand voting rights since our founding by suffragettes more than 100 years ago, and today’s decision will not deter us. The Richmond County Supreme Court’s choice to invalidate Local Law 11 is a minor setback, but we are committed to working alongside our partners to support the forthcoming appeal. Step by step, we remain steadfast in our mission to build a more inclusive and equitable democracy, which starts with extending the right to vote to one million immigrant New Yorkers who have made their lives here. At a time when municipalities across the country are rolling back voting rights, New York City has an opportunity to lead. We must not squander it.”