If passed, the "Our City, Our Vote" bill will add roughly a million new potential voters
New York City — I once overheard someone remark: "If you gotta pay taxes to Uncle Sam, then that same uncle should allow you to vote!"
Of all the political slogans uttered throughout history, at the core, they all say the same thing: "Every vote counts." After all, the right to vote is among the most basic rights of citizenship. And such a fact has long puzzled many a political scientist.
Take for instance Lucia Aguilar. She started living in the Big Apple before she even knew what an "apple" was. Now in her 30s, Aguilar's been an upstanding citizen of New York City — from faithfully paying her taxes to serving the community at a food bank.
Unfortunately for Aguilar, though she's been in NYC since age 3, she only has a green card and still has to wait years before she can apply for citizenship.
“Growing up here, going to school, you learn about the democratic system, and I believe in it and that we all have a say when we vote,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar, similar to the other roughly 1 million documented noncitizens in NYC, remains ineligible to participate in the most basic right of citizenship — the right to vote for representatives who best agree with her political stance. Fortunately for Aguilar, it appears her dream of taking part in the foundation of democracy is on the verge of becoming a reality.
For over 15 years, activists around the city have been working tirelessly to extend voting rights to non-citizens. Yet in June, when Council Member Ydanis Rodríguez reintroduced the latest version of the bill, to the surprise of many — it received the all-important 34th co-sponsor, which finally gave it a supermajority on the 51-member council.
The bill, “Our City, Our Vote,” offers hope for noncitizen residents like Aguilar. According to the report:
[The bill will allow] people with green cards, DACA protection, or Temporary Protected Status — to vote in all New York City municipal elections, giving them a voice in who gets elected to the City Council, as public advocate, even to the mayor’s office.
As for public backing of the potentially landmark bill, according to a poll conducted this year by the firm Change Research — 65 percent of respondents supported the measure.
Perhaps the poll merely reflects why most New Yorkers agree with the sentiment: "If you gotta pay taxes to Uncle Sam, then that same uncle should allow you to vote!"
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