New York, NY: On November 4, the Our City, Our Vote Coalition (OCOV), led by the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) and United Neighborhood Houses, were joined by immigrants’ rights and civic engagement advocates and allies in a sit-in and rally outside of Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s district office to demand a vote on New York City Council bill Intro 1867, which would expand the right to vote in municipal elections to immigrant New Yorkers with legal permanent residence status or work authorization.
In September, the City Council held a hearing on the legislation (Introduction 1867), where nearly 50 people testified for close to five hours in support of the landmark bill. Despite the overwhelming amount of testimony in favor of the expansion of municipal voting rights, and a majority of the Council signed on as co-sponsors of the bill, Council Speaker Corey Johnson has failed to call a vote on the bill in the six weeks since. After Tuesday’s election, in which nearly one million New York City residents were ineligible to vote due to their citizenship status, this legislation is increasingly necessary to ensure immigrant New Yorkers are no longer silenced in the city’s political decisions.
“Immigrant New Yorkers who live, work, and raise families in our city should not be relegated to the shadows of our local democracy every election cycle,” said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition. “They deserve a chance to be heard in how our city functions, just like the rest of us. New York just held its most important election in a generation. At stake was the makeup of our leadership from Mayor to all 51 of our Council Members. Yet nearly one million New Yorkers did not have the privilege of deciding who represents them. It’s past time for Council Speaker Corey Johnson to bring the Our City, Our Vote legislation to a vote and establish our city as a trailblazer in the national battle to expand the franchise.”
“New York City just went to the polls this week, but there were nearly a million New Yorkers who were not able to vote,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses. “New York City has a duty to create a democracy inclusive of and accountable to everyone who calls it home. As COVID-19 continues to impact our neighborhoods, it has never been more important to ensure all residents living, working, and paying taxes in our city can have a voice in our government. We urge Speaker Corey Johnson to take swift action and bring Intro 1867 to a vote and to finally enfranchise those who have been left out of the political process.”
“Expanding the electorate that can participate to include more immigrant New Yorkers to participate in local elections would make civic engagement more representative of our city,” said Mae Lee, Executive Director, Chinese Progressive Association.
“Immigrant New Yorkers are part of the fabric of this City and must have the right to vote at the municipal level,” said Ahmed Mohamed, Legal Director, CAIR-NY. “Despite immigrant New Yorkers’ contributions, they are disenfranchised and do not have a say in who gets to represent them at City Hall. Speaker Johnson must do his job and schedule the vote for Intro 1867. Speaker Johnson has an opportunity to be part of one of the biggest enfranchisement of voters or he can be remembered for his efforts to silence immigrant New Yorkers.” l