NYS Court Limits Democracy By Overturning NYC Municipal Voting Law

New YorkToday, the NYS Supreme Court Appellate Division: Second Judicial Department ruled on Fossella v. New York City, a lawsuit brought by Republican leaders against New York City’s passage of Local Law 11, New York City’s municipal voting rights bill. The judge’s panel ruled against noncitizen municipal voting in New York City, and struck down Local Law 11.

Local Law 11, which was passed by the New York City Council in December 2021, was a historic measure that enshrined the right of nearly one million New Yorkers to more fully participate in decisions about the communities where they live, work and pay taxes. 

“For generations, New York City’s culture and economy have benefited from the immigrants who have come here to work, raise their families, uplift their communities and pay taxes in New York. While we are still reviewing the decision and its impact on immigrant New Yorkers, the lawsuit remains another shameful attempt by xenophobic Republicans who would disenfranchise residents rather than promote a more inclusive and participatory democracy. Immigrant New Yorkers deserve a say in how their local government functions and spends their tax money, and we remain committed to ensuring the expansion of voting rights,” said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. 

“We are appalled by the court's decision which will have consequential effects 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 and our co-counsel continue to stand by our clients in the face of a difficult and perplexing decision cast by the court. We will continue our review alongside our clients as we weigh next steps,” said Cesar Ruiz, Associate Council at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. 

“We are deeply disappointed in the Appellate Court’s decision today regarding Local Law 11. United Neighborhood Houses has supported expanding the right to vote in municipal elections to immigrants for over a decade, and will continue to support this law throughout the remainder of 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,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses.



In December 2021, the New York City Council passed Local Law 11, allowing New York City residents with legal permanent residence status or work authorizations to register under New York State election law, to vote in municipal elections. Prior to the bill’s passage, nearly one million New York City residents could not vote in local elections due to their citizenship status, despite paying taxes and being invested in and contributing to the city.

In January 2022, a group of New York Republican voters, New York Republican officials, and members of the New York Republican State Committee and the Republican National Committee filed a legal challenge seeking to subvert the will of the New York City Council and newly enfranchised New Yorkers. Prior to pushing for its passage, the New York Immigration Coalition, assisted by a pro-bono legal team, conducted a rigorous legal review of Intro 1867/Local Law 11 and found that the bill did not violate New York State’s electoral laws or its constitution.