Victory For Election Integrity

Today, the Richmond County State Supreme Court made a ruling backing up arguments made by plaintiffs and further reinforcing Assemblyman Kevin Byrne's public position that only American citizens should vote in New York elections. Earlier this year, in response to New York City’s constitutionally-dubious decision to pass this legislation enabling 800,000 non-citizens to vote in local elections, Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R,C,I,SAM,ROS-Mahopac) introduced a constitutional amendment to change the wording in Article 2, Section 1 of the state Constitution from ‘every citizen shall be entitled to vote’ to ‘only citizens shall be entitled to vote’ to further clarify the intent of the state's constitution that voting is an exclusive right for American citizens. Byrne was successful in forcing his proposed amendment onto the Assembly Election Committee Agenda, but Assembly Majority still voted in lockstep to hold the bill and prevent a full vote by the Legislature from being considered.

“The sacred right to vote is an exclusive right for law-abiding American citizens. As I have said before, I believed Article 2, Section 1 of our state constitution had already made that clear. I introduced a constitutional amendment to make our state constitution's intent crystal clear and ensure there was no opportunity for exploitation by local governments," said Byrne.

“The right to vote should remain exclusively for U.S. citizens, not foreign nationals,” Byrne continued. “We welcome new people to our nation and state, but they should only be permitted to vote after they are fully committed to our country and have become citizens of the U.S. This decision reaffirms that the so-called New York City progressives who pushed this legislation through were always on shaky legal ground, and I credit the plaintiffs who challenged this law for their victory.” Plaintiffs in the recent case included, but were not limited to, several current and former legislative colleagues of Byrne, including Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis, Assemblyman Michael Reilly, Assemblyman Michael Tannousis and state Sen. Andrew Lanza.

On June 27, 2022 Justice Ralph Porzio of the Richmond County State Supreme Court ruled that a New York City law passed in late 2021 permitting noncitizens the right to vote in municipal elections violates the New York State Constitution. In his ruling, Porzio wrote, “The New York State Constitution expressly states that citizens meeting the age and residency requirements are entitled to register and vote in elections... Though voting is a right so many citizens take for granted, the City of New York cannot 'obviate' the restrictions imposed by the Constitution" (WABC, 2022). 

Since Byrne introduced his legislation, Fox News conducted a poll that concluded 71% of people say noncitizens should not be given the right to vote. Minority lawmakers opposed noncitizen voting by 89%, Independents opposed it by 77% and Majority lawmakers were evenly split with 50% opposed and 50% supporting noncitizen voting in local elections (Shawn, 2022). The recent decision by the State Supreme Court appears to be in line with the overwhelming majority of those polled.

Shawn, E. (2022, February 1). NY state lawmaker proposes referendum to block noncitizens from casting ballots. Fox News. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.foxnews.com/politics/new-york-state-lawmaker-proposes-referendum-block-noncitizens-casting-ballots

WABC. (2022, June 27). Staten Island judge Strikes Down NYC's non-citizen voting law. ABC7 New York. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://abc7ny.com/judge-ralph-porzio-non-citizens-voting-staten-island-new-york-city/11998587/