Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes (R,C-Caledonia) joined state lawmakers today at the state Capitol for a press conference announcing new legislation that would prohibit non-citizens from voting in elections in New York state (A.9095). Currently under a new law, non-citizens are allowed to vote in local elections in New York City – and there is movement in Albany to expand the measure statewide.
“One of the most sacred rights of United States citizenship is having the opportunity to participate in our democratic process,” said Byrnes. “While I certainly would like as many citizens to participate in that process as possible, that right should only be extended to citizens. If leaders in our state government want to have a conversation about expanding pathways to citizenship, they should talk to President Biden about doing just that, not bypass our Constitution and everything our citizenship stands for to make a political point.”
Last year legislation was passed to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections in all five boroughs in New York City, unless the measure was vetoed by in-coming Mayor Eric Adams. Adams failed to veto the measure, so it is now in effect, meaning non-citizens will be eligible to legally cast their votes in upcoming primary and general elections this year.
The legislation proposed by Byrnes and her colleagues is a constitutional amendment, which means the bill would need to be required to be passed by to two independently-elected state Legislatures and then approved by public referendum. Though this is a more timely process, it would ensure the integrity of New York state elections for generations.
The bill is currently in the Assembly Judiciary Committee, of which Byrnes is also a member. Byrnes said she expects the bill will not be acted upon immediately by her colleagues across the aisle, however this will not deter her (or her colleagues) efforts to encourage them to protect the integrity of the electoral process for United States citizens.