Lawmakers approve voter access for immigrants

Written by Staff Writer

On Tuesday, New York City’s City Council approved a bill making it easier for noncitizens to vote in the city’s municipal elections.

It marks the first time any city has passed such a law, and advocates are hopeful it could be a model for other municipalities to follow.

“If you look at our particular challenges in New York City, it isn’t only the one out of four folks without a license, who are able to vote at the federal level, but it’s the fact that most folks don’t have the skills, awareness or the desire to be involved in that process,” Minority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, who authored the bill, told CNN.

Bramer’s office said the number of people able to vote and eligible to participate in local elections have held steady in recent years. According to Van Bramer’s office, 66% of city residents don’t have a driver’s license, but that portion also drops to under 30% for immigrants.

“We didn’t pass this bill because there’s an urgent need for New Yorkers to vote in our mayoral election,” said Van Bramer, a Democrat from Queens who’s represented his district since 2013. “It’s because most folks in New York City, regardless of their citizenship status, don’t understand the importance of being active participants in our democracy, and they should.”

Van Bramer said the legislation comes at an opportune time, as New York City elects a new mayor in November, and is hoping to expand the pool of eligible voters and increase representation in the city’s local government.

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