Skip to content

GOP sues NYC over letting immigrants vote in local elections

The law affects permanent residents, work visa holders and DACA recipients in the Big Apple

Voters fill out their Election Day ballots at a polling location in Hillsboro, Va., in 2018.
Voters fill out their Election Day ballots at a polling location in Hillsboro, Va., in 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Republican National Committee on Monday challenged a recent measure allowing foreign citizens with legal work permits living in New York City to vote in local elections.

The RNC, along with a group of New York Republican lawmakers and naturalized American citizens, claimed in their lawsuit that the new law — which would make roughly 800,000 foreign-born New Yorkers eligible to vote in local elections — conflicts with the state constitution and state election laws.

They also contend the measure, which took effect Saturday, “will dilute the votes” of American citizens and “cause an abrupt and sizeable change to the makeup of the electorate.”

It would also require the RNC and other Republican officials “to adjust their strategies and how they allocate their resources to help elect Republicans in New York,” the officials said in the complaint, filed in New York state court.

In addition to the RNC, other challengers included Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., whose district includes Staten Island, Nicholas A. Langworthy, the chairman of the New York Republican State Committee, and New York City Council members who voted against the law.

The City Council approved the voting measure on Dec. 9, making New York the largest city to permit foreign citizens to vote in local elections. More than a dozen municipalities across the country already allow some foreign citizens to vote in certain local elections, including multiple jurisdictions in Maryland and Vermont, as well as San Francisco.

Neither former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio nor newly sworn-in Mayor Eric Adams signed or vetoed the bill, allowing it to take effect automatically after 30 days.

The measure applies to foreign citizens with legal work permits — including permanent residents, work visa holders and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipients — who have lived in New York City for at least 30 days.

Eligible foreign citizens could register as a “municipal voter” in elections for mayor, city council, borough president and other local races and ballot initiatives. They may begin registering to vote on Dec. 9, 2022, a year after the bill’s passage, and begin voting in local elections on Jan. 9, 2023.

The bill would not allow them to vote in state or federal elections.

José Bayona, a spokesperson for City Hall, said in a statement Monday the Adams administration “intends to vigorously defend the law in court.”

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement that the organization “is suing to protect the integrity of our elections.”

“American elections should be decided by American citizens. If Democrats can subvert elections this flagrantly in America’s largest city, they can do it anywhere,” she said.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., also signaled support for the lawsuit, echoing McDaniel’s statement in tweets shortly after the suit was announced.

“Only American citizens should decide the outcome of American elections,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter, while Stefanik similarly tweeted that “American citizens should decide American elections.”

Recent Stories

Capitol Ink | Aerial assault

Auto parts suppliers fear a crash with shift to EVs

As summer interns descend on the Hill, this resource office is ready

Democrats add five candidates to Red to Blue program

Is Congress still ‘The Last Plantation’? It is for staffers, says James Jones

Staffers bear the brunt of threats aimed at district offices