THE VILLAGE VOICE: Why Don’t We Let Non-Citizen Residents Vote?

By Felipe De La Hoz

New York has long suffered from abysmal voter turnout, and this election cycle so far hasn’t provided much cause for optimism. Hopes of a post-Trump voter engagement bump in the September primaries were dashed as 14 percent of registered Democrats turned out for the only contested mayoral primary, the lowest percentage since 2009. Primaries have lower turnouts than general elections, but if the 2013 election was any indication — at 24 percent of registered voters, it was the lowest recorded turnout in the city’s history — barely one-eighth of the city’s overall population will turn out to pick our next chief executive today.

There is, however, one very large group of people who would be especially motivated to cast
ballots in Tuesday’s election, if not for one little catch — they’re not legally allowed to. New York City has the largest foreign-born population of any city in the nation by far; of these, about 1.5 million were non-citizens as of 2011, nearly the size of the entire population of
Philadelphia. As New York faces a choice for mayor featuring two candidates who voted for Donald Trump, one of whom sued to preserve a municipal ID database that activists worry could be a tool for deportation, noncitizen immigrants are left to push and organize but not, ultimately, to decide.

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