Aside from the merits, the incredibly smug arrogance of Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez alone makes you want to oppose his bill to let immigrants vote in city elections. “If people have a problem with this, then they should move to another town or another country that has not been built by immigrants,” he said at a hearing Monday on the measure, which has the support of a majority of his fellow liberals on the City Council but is opposed by Mayor de Blasio.

You know your bill is a bit too “progressive” when even de Blasio won’t go for it. And there’s that little bit about it flying in the face of the state Constitution.

We’ll see how far Rodriguez gets with his bill to help make citizenship a little more meaningless. Back in 2013, it was Queens’ own Councilman Danny Dromm who was sponsoring the same kind of bill. Like Rodriguez, Dromm had the support of 33 of his colleagues. When he spoke to us in March 2013, he said he hoped to get the bill on the floor by the end of the year. But in the end it went nowhere. It was a similar story when another lawmaker introduced a comparable bill back in 2014. But they keep trying ...

Look, this city bends over backwards for its immigrants. Whether it’s IDNYC, specifically designed to give unauthorized migrants legally viable identification, or city-run healthcare, the constant mantra is “without regard to immigration status.” That’s great, but voting is not something someone should be entitled to sheerly due to their arriving in New York City.

The best argument for giving noncitizens the franchise is that keeping them from voting is taxation without representation. That sounds like a compelling case at first, until you think about it. Someone vacationing here, for example, for however long a time, doesn’t get to vote — despite paying things like sales taxes and other tax-like fees such as subway fares or bridge tolls. If an immigrant wants to enjoy the franchise, he or she can apply for citizenship. Secure that by swearing allegiance to the United States and renouncing it to any other nation, and you can vote.

Yes, it’s an arduous process. So were those by which we secured the right to vote — far more so than filling out papers and paying fees. The franchise should be reserved to citizens of our city, state and nation.

(1) comment

stan chaz

I disagree with your “smug” editorial (hmm ..where have I heard that term being bandied around by you before?). It’s not a question of being too “progressive” to too “liberal”. Nor is hit a question of making citizenship more more less “meaningful”, as you claim. We do not lose by doing so, we gain, we gain as a city, we gain as a society, we gain iretyu, as a true community by doing so, and by expanding the right and responsibility to vote. It’s a very down-to-earth and crucial question of basic human rights —of people, ALL people, having a genuine & democratic voice in determining and shaping the decisions that affect their lives, most especially on a LOCAL level. Therefore I strongly disagree with you insistence on continuing to deny full representation for ALL our neighbors, for ALL people who live and work among us, for ALL residents who pay taxes, for ALL those who are often essential workers - risking their lives so that our city can functiong in a pandemic. This, as all the while they are unrepresented, unrepresented and voiceless in terms of being unable to vote and unable to be involved in the crucial decisions that directly affect their lives & their livelihoods. All of that provokes me to offer a “compromise", a compromise in the long tradition of our sordid history as a nation, a compromise that reflects the way we have mistreated the so-called “savages” and “slaves” and exploited among us in the not-so-recent past. For those among us who are not citizens I propose the “compromise" that they be counted as three-fifths of a person, just as each state's slave population was once counted toward that state's total population for the purpose of apportioning the House of Representaties In the United States Constitution (as found in the Three-fifths Compromise of Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 which was shamefully upheld by the Supreme Court of that era). It is only “fitting" to do so now, since so many of us don’t even consider the un-documented among as full human beings, rather, as “aliens" ..or illegals …or scapegoats, ...or worse. 2/3rds of a person? Inhumane you say? Have we learned nothing from our history you ask? But is it better, or more moral, or more “American” to ignore or dismiss them as we do now , in terms denying them a voice in voting …and leaving them out completely? Indeed, to quote Elie Wiesel, who once said, with the wisdom of being a a holocaust camp survivor: "No human being is illegal" ...and therefore no human being should be invisible or dismissed or denied when it comes to being fairly and fully represented in a government that claims to be a democracy, and especially in governmental decisions that directly affec their everyday lives and the lives of their families.THAT is un-American - and not a lessening of our citizenship and our democratic principles. This, by the very fatc that they live and work and die among us, and are flesh and blood people — not some kind of abstract chess pieces that we can ignore or deny or punish. IF we truly believe in democracy, we must let them vote. We are, and can be, better than our history. We must be better, most especially in a unique and special City like New York, where the beacon of Our Lady of the Harbor has long-welcomed and embraced and guided immigrants , immigrants seeking to make a better life, immigrants that created a better America in the process. Please listen to the voices of your long deceased grandparents or great-grandparents , who often came here without restrictions, and who made YOUR life here possible, and who would be the very first to urge you to open your hearts and minds, and to offer opportunities and a voice to those who have followed in the paths that they took to come here a century ago. Let those who live in this City vote, let’s finally make this a true and fair democracy , let’s accept & embrace the full humanity of ALL our neighbors —so that we can all wotk together as one City to solve our common problems & common challenges. We are all in this together, and so we must all be allowed to participate together, and be given a voice in the process of self-government. It’s time, it’s way past time to do so.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.