A group of black Americans in New York City last week filed a lawsuit against the New York City Board of Elections for allowing foreigners to vote in city elections.
The law amends the city charter to allow “lawful permanent residents and persons authorized to work in the United States to cast ballots in municipal elections.”
The group of registered voters alleged that the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s Fifteenth Amendment, which bars discrimination in voting based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” The group said the law dilutes the votes of black Americans in the city. From the group’s legal counsel, The Public Interest Legal Foundation (emphasis added):
The complaint alleges that the sponsors of the legislation made explicit statements evidencing the racial purpose of the law and engaged in conduct that demonstrated a racial purpose behind the proposal to allow foreign citizens to vote.
Sponsors spoke in favor of giving the right to vote to racial groups as opposed to merely noncitizens. The complaint also alleges that Census data demonstrate that foreigners voting will harm the voting strength of African Americans in New York City, and that the sponsors knew this ahead of time. The sponsors of the bill are aware of this racial composition and passed the bill with the intent to strengthen the power of Hispanic and Asian powers and reduce the power of other racial groups. Of the approximately 1 million foreign nationals in New York City, approximately 488,000 are Hispanic and 343,000 are Asian.
Ken Blackwell, a member of The Public Interest Legal Foundation’s board of directors, said the law is a “direct violation of the 15th Amendment…While municipalities might have the right to let aliens vote on municipal issues, they don’t have the right to dilute the electoral power of an American citizen on the basis of race.”
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