New York City is currently considering, and could pass, a bill that would allow non-citizens to vote in local contests. While the bill is gathering steam in the City Council – and opposition, from Mayor Bloomberg and others – it does raise some fascinating issues with regard to implementation should it become law:
Domicile. Fights about student voting across the nation often turn on the issue of domicile, which in turn links voting eligibility to presence in a community as well as “intent to remain”. These disputes are already fierce when the voters involved are already citizens; I can only imagine how heated the arguments will be about non-citizens, who would be eligible to vote in City elections after six months under the proposed bill.
Ballot management. If enacted, the expansion of voting to non-citizens would give those voters the right to cast a ballot in City elections but not state or federal contests, given the citizenship requirement at those levels. Figuring out how to ensure that voters get the correct ballot will be no small task.
The Board of Elections. Big questions like constitutionality and immigration policy aside, one has to wonder whether the New York City Board of Elections – already under fire on numerous fronts regarding its leadership and capacity to administer the City’s crowded and complex election calendar – is up for the task of adding over a million new non-citizen voters and all of the associated extra work it will entail. (To be fair, the Board recognizes the challenge and is currently opposing the bill citing it as an unfunded mandate that will create “logistical nightmare[s]” in implementation.)