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09/30/2015 | Fighting for an Inclusive Democracy

Democracy for All: iVote NYC

In September, the Center for Popular Democracy, along with our core partner Make the Road New York, joined the Coordinating Committee of the iVote NYC Coalition. The coalition, which is made up of a diverse group of labor and immigrant rights organizations from all over the city, has been advocating for over a decade to expand municipal voting rights to include non-citizen New Yorkers.

More than half of the members of the City Council have voiced their support for the campaign, and Council Member Danny Dromm sponsored an early version of a bill that would grant the right to vote to city residents regardless of federal citizenship. Non-citizens currently represent about 18 percent of the population, which means that there are over one million people who could become eligible to vote if this initiative succeeds.

As new and exciting as noncitizen voting sounds, it was actually common in the U.S. during the nineteenth century. The practice peaked in 1875, when it was legal in 22 states, and then declined in the early twentieth century. In the last 25 years more than 30 towns, cities, and states have explored, proposed or passed some form of noncitizen voting.

But with this legislation, New York City is poised to become the first city since 1826 to grant full voting rights to non-citizens in all municipal elections. CPD is thrilled to be part of this historic campaign.