Resident voting is the next step in expanding democracy.
Democracy building is a process of continual evolution. Women and people of color fought hard-won battles for the right to vote. It was just over forty years ago that we extended the franchise to those under 21 years of age. It is time to include immigrants in our democracy.
Resident voting is not a new right; it is the restoration of an old practice.
For the first 150 years of U.S. history, immigrants in America were allowed to vote. It was not until the intense anti-immigrant backlash of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that immigrants lost this critical right. The Revolutionary War cry, ” no taxation without representation” is as relevant today as it was over 200 years ago.
Resident voting is provided for constitutionally.
There is nothing in either the U.S. or the New York State Constitution that prevents immigrant residents of New York from voting in municipal elections.
Residents already have voting rights in some parts of the United States and in other countries.
Immigrant residents have the right to vote in local elections in parts of Maryland, Massachusetts, and in countries around the world. Legislatures in San Francisco and Washington DC are considering similar measures. It is only appropriate that New York, home of the Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island, join this list.
New York City has a history of resident voting.
All residents with a child in the New York City public school system, irrespective of their citizenship status, had the right to vote in school board elections before school boards were disbanded in 2004.
Individuals should have a say in the laws that govern them.
Laws apply to everyone in a society. Government services are established for the benefit of the public at large, not individuals. In New York City that public includes over 1.3 million immigrants of voting age, who pay taxes, and deserve to have a say in the laws that govern them and the programs that they pay for and use.
We need to close the gap between local government and the people it serves.
New York government officials do not adequately reflect the faces of the people they represent. Extending the vote will increase civic and political engagement in New York and help ensure that elected representatives take the needs of all of their constituents into account.
Immigrants make enormous financial, social and cultural contributions.
Becoming a U.S. citizen can take 10 years. Annually, immigrants pay $18.2 billion in New York State taxes and represent 15.5% of the state’s tax income. They also contribute to the vibrant social and cultural life of our city.
To endorse the campaign to expand voting rights, CLICK HERE.