Expansion of Voting is a Result of Over a Decade of Immigrant Organizing

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Our City Our Vote bill will be voted on in City Council on Thursday

Our City Our Vote (Int. 1867) is the latest stage in a fight that has lasted for over a decade. With the upcoming public hearing on Dec. 9 and victory in sight, we uplift the important role which grassroots organizations have played in bringing this legislation to fruition. Immigrants who work, raise their families, go to school and pay their taxes here in New York City have led the fight to expand voting rights for years.

DRUM has been a part of the fight to expand voting rights to noncitizens since 2011. DRUM members worked for years to build public awareness around this campaign. In 2013 we partnered with Councilmember Daniel Dromm who was the prime sponsor of the bill at the time. We held a press conference and rally at City Hall to pressure other councilmembers to support us. DRUM members also testified at a hearing for the bill. In the years that followed we continued to build awareness and pressure City Council by petitioning, doing popular education and meeting with electeds. In this final stage, DRUM partnered with the Our City Our Vote coalition by building even more community support for the bill.

Now, more than 800,000 New Yorkers are going to be able to vote in municipal elections and influence elected officials in new ways. This is significant as in other parts of the country voter suppression is on the rise and different laws make it increasingly difficult for working class communities of color to cast votes.

There are already a few towns in Vermont and Maryland which allow noncitizen voting in municipal elections. In addition, the right to vote in elections has not always been connected to citizenship. In early US history, the only major requirement was to be a wealthy, land owning white man. Such a requirement ensured that politicians catered only to the interests of those men. Since then Black communities and women waged their own struggles to win the right to vote. As a part of that larger struggle, when immigrant communities—who represent a considerable force in New York City—win the right to vote, they will be able to exercise an even greater influence on the day to day conditions which govern their lives.

Partners:

Adhikaar, African Communities Together, American Pakistani Advocacy Group, Arab American Association of NY, Arab American Family Support Center, Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund, BLAC Caucus, CAAAV, CHHAYA CDC, Chinese Progressive Association, Chinese-American Planning Council, Cidadao Global, Coalition for Asian American Children & Families, Demos, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), DSI International Inc, East Side House Settlement, Educational Alliance, Faith in New York, Federation of Indigenous Peoples’ of Nepal in America (FIPNA), Goddard Riverside Community Center, Grand Street Settlement, Inc., Hispanic Federation, Human Services Council, Indo-Caribbean Alliance, Inc., Jacob Riis Neighborhood Center, Latino Justice PRLDEF, Literacy Assistance Center, MASA, Minkwon Center for Community Action, National Action Network, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NY, New York Immigration Coalition, New Sanctuary Coalition, Nonprofit New York, Queens Community House, Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-United), S.T.O.P., Sampreshan TV Show, Shetu Inc., South Asians for America, Street Vendor Project, Sunnyside Community Services, The Black Institute, Unite Here Local 100, United Neighborhood Houses, United Sherpa Association, University Student Senate at CUNY, VOCAL New York.

I Vote NY— Coalition to Expand Voting Rights

https://web.archive.org/web/20160402102828/http://www.ivotenyc.org/docs/NYCEVR-3-Pts-flyer2014.pdf

2011 – Democracy iVote Festival

http://www.queensbuzz.com/ivote-festival—legal-residents-citizenship-voting-rights-in-queens-cms-807

2013 – Press Conference and Hearing at City Hall

https://www.businessinsider.com/new-york-city-non-citizens-vote-2013-5

2013 – Daniel Dromm Supports I Vote NY

https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/05/09/city-councilman-proposes-allowing-non-citizens-to-vote-in-local-elections/

2013 – Mock Election

https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131104/jackson-heights/mock-election-at-diversity-plaza-pushes-for-expanded-voting-rights

2015 – Continuing to Build Pressure in City Council

https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/05/09/city-councilman-proposes-allowing-non-citizens-to-vote-in-local-elections/

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/02/new-york-city-non-citizens-local-elections

https://nyunews.com/2015/03/26/non-citizen-voting-step-in-right-direction/

2016 – Building Community Awareness and Petitioning – DRUM collected over 2500 signatures

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-07/the-curious-history-of-non-citizen-voting

2019-2021 Our City Our Vote

https://uploads.prod01.oregon.platform-os.com/instances/542/assets/Press%20Advisory_%20OCOV%20Corona%20Plaza%20Rally%20%20(6.17.21).pdf?updated=1623968170

https://www.nyic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Our-City-Our-Vote-9.pdf

https://citylimits.org/2020/11/16/opinion-nyc-should-restore-noncitizens-right-to-vote-before-the-2021-elections/

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/23/nyregion/noncitizen-voting-rights-nyc.html

https://queenspost.com/city-council-likely-to-pass-legislation-permitting-noncitizens-the-right-to-vote-in-local-elections

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/28/opinion/noncitizen-voting-us-elections.html

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