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N.Y. Supreme Court strikes down NYC law granting voting rights to noncitizen residents

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Non-citizens living in New York City will not be allowed to vote in local elections.

A judge has blocked the measure Monday after New York back in January became the first city in the nation to grant those rights to non-citizens.

The law would have allowed nearly 1 million people to vote in the city’s municipal elections, but as CBS2’s Christina Fan reported, Republicans challenged the measure, and won.

A day before the primary election, it’s a major blow for voting rights advocates. Just seven months ago, they rallied on City Hall steps to give non-citizens the right to vote. On Monday, they learned the short-lived law was defeated in court.

“We are emphasizing how important it is to emphasize your voice, and yet we continue to let 1 million New Yorkers remain silent in the process,” said Wennie Chin of the New York Immigration Coalition.

Passed last December, Local Law 11 granted immigrants with green cards, work authorization, and DACA recipients the right to vote in municipal elections starting next year. But on Monday, the Richmond County Supreme Court struck down the groundbreaking expansion, saying it violated the constitution.

“The law is as clear as could possibly be,” New York City Council minority leader Joe Borelli said.

Borelli was among the group of Republican lawmakers who sued the city, arguing it would change how they campaign and dilute votes.

“Every administration, including the de Blasio administration and the Bloomberg administration, has been clear, saying this law would be unconstitutional and against the current statute. And now a judge has affirmed that decision,” Borelli said.

The law could have allowed close to 1 million New Yorkers vote for mayor, public advocate, City Council and borough presidents.

Supporters argued these residents are paying taxes and should have representation.

“This is fundamentally unjust and unacceptable. I stand here with our city, our coalition to fight together to appeal this decision,” one person said.

A spokesperson with the city Law Department wrote, “This is a disappointing court ruling for people who value bringing in thousands more New Yorkers into the democratic process. We are evaluating next steps.”

“We’re expecting an appeal, but I think the appeals judges will see that the law is clear as possibly can be,” Borelli said.

“This is the opening round. This is going through the gates for the horse race. This is nothing yet,” litigation attorney Andrew Lieb told CBS2’s Kevin Rincon.

Lieb said there is room for interpretation when it comes to the state’s constitution.

“Because it says every citizen should be entitled to a vote. It doesn’t say to the exclusion of others,” Lieb said.

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