By Daniel Burke, CNN • Updated 1st November 2016
New York — On Thursday evening, New York state passed legislation that would allow noncitizens to vote in the state’s elections, if they meet certain conditions.
Democrats brought the bill forward after the state’s then-governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation last year allowing noncitizens to obtain driver’s licenses in New York.
Cuomo vetoed that bill because it did not include the same language allowing noncitizens to vote in elections. The new legislation contains this language, which according to Cuomo “makes clear that every qualified American citizen can and should have the right to vote.”
The move has been praised by advocacy groups and supporters.
“This historic legislation is an important step forward for the democratic process,” said Barbara Oliver, the legislative director for the New York Civil Liberties Union. “For more than 200 years, no state has allowed noncitizens to vote, in effect denying them access to the ballot box and the power to meaningfully participate in their communities.”
The legislation has drawn some criticism as well.
“New York is blatantly breaking its own laws to punish immigrants,” said Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway in a statement. “The Trump administration will be aggressively enforcing our immigration laws — opening the door for criminals to be deported.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office released a statement Sunday:
“New York State is committed to expanding civil rights and empowering all New Yorkers to participate in our democracy. While the Administration disagrees with the proposed law that eliminates an individual’s eligibility to vote in New York State elections based on citizenship status, as long as citizens can exercise that right, the Executive will work with the Legislature to protect the second amendment right to bear arms.
“Citizens are able to register to vote beginning on the first day of September, regardless of their citizenship status. The State Department of Motor Vehicles also continues to process valid applications for driver’s licenses regardless of citizenship. All New Yorkers have the right to vote regardless of their immigration status, and our administration will continue to defend that right.”