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SI Boro Pres Threatens to Sue NYC to Block Bill Allowing Non-Citizens Right to Vote

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By Ilana Siyance

Staten Island’s Borough President-elect is threatening to sue New York City if a new bill, allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections, is passed.

As reported by the NY Post, Vito Fossella, who will take on the role of borough president in January, said he will work to stop non-citizens from being allowed to register and vote in political parties and city elections.  A controversial bill, sponsored by Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan) aims to allow green-card holders and other residents authorized to work in the country, to cast their votes in local elections. “One of the great privileges of being a citizen is the right to vote and as [borough president], I will initiate legal action to preserve the sanctity of the vote,” said Fossella last week.  The Republican, who won a political comeback in November, is a Staten Island native with other politicians in his lineage.  The 56-year-old formerly represented NY State’s 13th congressional district for six terms, from 1997 to 2009, and was the only Republican congressman in the five boroughs.

The proposed bill would allow over 800,000 more New Yorkers, including 622,000 green-card holders the right to vote in city elections, as per the Post.  Federal and state elections would not be applicable under this bill. The measure will be decided on Thursday, and it is expected to be passed, as it has a veto-proof majority lined up with approval from the full Council.

“The qualifications for the right to vote are laid out clearly in our state Constitution. Extending that right to non-citizens is unconstitutional and simultaneously dilutes the votes of and devalues what it means to be a citizen,” Fossella said. To add clout, he said four other Republican elected officials will also be joining him in any potential legal battle. Last week, two of the four, Councilman Joe Borrelli and Councilman-elect David Carr, both also from Staten Island, joined state GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy atError! Hyperlink reference not valid.  to speak out against the pending legislation.  Also, Councilwoman-elect Vickie Paladino (R-Queens) expressed interest in joining their legal battle on Friday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has recurrently expressed hesitations regarding the bill, saying he believes only state lawmakers have the power to pass it into law. Still, he has said he will not veto the bill.

On Friday, Rodriguez told the Post that he is confident the measure will be passed, and will overcome any legal challenges.


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