In a move that is sure to give the Fox News types fits, New York City could soon become the largest jurisdiction in the nation to give non-citizens the right to vote. The proposal, which would allow lawful residents who have resided in the city for more than six months the right to vote in local elections, appears to have a veto-proof majority on the New York City Council.
It may come as a surprise to many to learn that throughout much of US history citizenship and suffrage had little to do with each. After all, natural born and naturalized women were always citizens, yet did not attain the right to vote nationally until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. Meanwhile, most states allowed some sort of noncitizen voting throughout the nation's first century—Arkansas became the last state ban it in 1926. Even today, non-citizens are allowed to vote in local elections in some Maryland municipalities.
We've been trained to think that there's something untoward about non-citizens voting, but if you think about it, what's the big deal? Legal immigrant residents are subject to our laws and feel the impact of our public policies as much as the rest of us. And most importantly: They pay taxes! "No taxation without representation," right? That's a fundamental American ideal that NYC seems about to embrace.