The Left’s Latest Political Scheme: Let Noncitizens Vote

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2022
by Outside Contributor

More than 800,000 will soon be eligible to cast ballots in municipal elections in New York City.

Despite misgivings, New York City’s new mayor, Eric Adams, has rolled over for the city council and allowed more than 800,000 noncitizen residents to vote in future elections for mayor and all other city officials.

Starting in 2023, the city will have to print separate ballots for city races, since noncitizens will still be barred from voting in statewide and presidential elections. But make no mistake. The new New York law is part of a nationwide push to blur the very meaning of citizenship and promote noncitizen voting everywhere and for all offices.

There are few limits on how far the “woke” Left will go to change the rules of voting. In 2019, a majority of House Democrats voted to lower the federal voting age to 16 years, from 18. This week, Senate Democrats will try to ram through a bill that would nationalize elections by taking away the right of states to determine their own voting systems. Liberals will use any hysterical argument to justify this power grab: Representative Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) even told MSNBC last week that if Republicans win November’s midterm elections, “voting in this country as we know it will be gone.”

New York City’s law was promoted by former councilman Ydanis Rodríguez, who immigrated to the city from the Dominican Republic and is now the commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation. If noncitizens “pay their taxes as I did when I had a green card,” he says, “then they should have a right to elect their local leaders.” He notes that the new law will limit the right to vote to legal residents and green-card holders.

But that’s only because an earlier version of his legislation from 2013 that would have given the vote to illegal aliens simply generated too much political heat. Many backers of noncitizen voting acknowledge that since many illegal aliens also pay income, payroll, and sales taxes, they too should be allowed to vote. No doubt the advocates of the plan hope that the example of New York will fuel their goal of extending rights to illegal aliens. “As New York City goes, so goes the rest of the world,” former New York City councilman David Dromm, an original backer of noncitizen voting, has boasted.

Until now, the movement he’s a part of had made only snail-like progress. Six communities in Maryland allow it for local elections. Even in radical San Francisco, only 54 percent of voters in 2016 approved a measure to give voting rights to noncitizens in school-board elections. No significant legal challenges have been mounted against the smattering of cities that have allowed noncitizen voting.

But the new law in the nation’s largest city will throw noncitizen voting into a high-stakes legal battle. The constitution of New York State clearly states that all citizens over the age of 18 are entitled to vote. While it is silent on allowing noncitizen voting, judges may require that right to be made explicit through the laborious process of amending the state constitution.

Even former mayor Bill de Blaiso admitted while he was in office that the concept involved “big legal questions.” He would have preferred “to make sure that there’s maximum incentive to finish the citizenship process.”

The very notion of noncitizen voting is fraught with peril, especially in a big city such as New York. Seth Barron, a contributor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, notes that the city’s board of elections has long been a den of partisan hacks and has consistently demonstrated its incompetence, most recently in the Democratic primary for mayor last year. He also questions how legitimate some city-council races would be in parts of Queens or the Bronx where more than 50 percent of the population is made up of foreign citizens.

In 2016, New York Board of Elections commissioner Alan Schulkin, a Democrat, was videotaped at a party by Project Veritas confirming the existence of voter fraud and decrying the city’s failure to require voter ID. “Certain neighborhoods in particular, they bus people around to vote,” Schulkin said on the tape. “They put them in a bus and go poll site to poll site.” Schulkin was forced to resign by de Blasio for saying “absolutely the reverse of what someone should be saying on the Board of Elections.” In other words, these aren’t the scandals anyone should be looking for.

Few experts believe that in a place where noncitizen voting is allowed there would be effective enforcement of laws still barring illegal aliens from voting. They already can choose to vote without much fear of detection. A 2014 study by two Old Dominion University professors, based on survey data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, indicated that 6.4 percent of all noncitizens voted illegally in the 2008 presidential election and that 2.2 percent did in the 2010 midterms.

Given that 80 percent of noncitizens lean Democratic, they cite Al Franken ‘s 312-vote win in the 2008 U.S. Senate race in Minnesota as one likely tipped by noncitizen voting. That election also had profound consequences. As a senator, Franken cast the 60th vote to break the filibuster — a vote that was needed to make Obamacare law.

That kind of impact on national policy has prompted Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, himself the son of Cuban immigrants, to introduce a bill to prohibit federal funding to states and localities that allow foreigners to vote. “It’s ridiculous that states are allowing foreign citizens to vote,” Rubio says. “However, if states and localities do let those who are not U.S. citizens to vote in elections, they shouldn’t get U.S. citizen taxpayer money.”

I’m very much in favor of having people legally living in this country establish ties to the community and have a say in their governance. As Howard Husock, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, says, “the right way to bring noncitizens into the electoral process at the federal, state, and local levels is old-fashioned: encourage them to become citizens.” It’s not hard to go that route for legal residents — they must have been in the U.S. for five years, pay some fees, and pass a test, given in English, on U.S. institutions.

What is so unfair about the system we have now? The answer is that it doesn’t suit the blatantly political imperatives of the woke Left, and that is a key reason the reason noncitizen voting must be rejected.