Monday, December 13, 2021

Contact: Karl Schwartz, EMAIL: thekarlkarlthe@gmail.com 

“The North New Jersey chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (NNJDSA) is excited to see New York City come closer to a true democracy by passing a bill to allow non-citizens to vote in municipal elections. We call on all municipalities in New Jersey to live up to their democratic principles and do the same.” 

On December 9th, the New York City Council passed legislation to give over 800,000 non-citizens the right to vote in municipal elections in New York City. This welcome legislation comes as dozens of states across the country are heading backwards, passing more restrictive voting laws making it harder for people to participate in elections. These laws aim to amplify the power of the wealthy, white, capitalist class at the expense of working class voters, black voters, students, and people with disabilities.

Unfortunately, non-citizen voting is a rarity in the United States, legal only in fourteen scattered towns in Maryland and Vermont. With this legislation, New York City will become by far the largest municipality in the United States to allow non-citizens to vote. As democratic socialists, we believe the entire working class should be brought into the electoral process regardless of citizenship status and socialists must fight to expand voting rights to non-citizens and other disenfranchised groups wherever their votes are being suppressed. 

Immigrants make up 23% of New Jersey’s population. This means that a large number of our fellow New Jerseyans are excluded from our democracy, particularly in towns like Palisades Park, Union City, and West New York, where more than half the population is foreign born. Meanwhile, Jersey City has our state’s largest immigrant population, of over 100,000 noncitizens.

Over the past year in New Jersey, organizers in the immigrant justice movement have successfully closed three out of four of the state’s ICE detention centers. With fewer beds to detain immigrants, ICE has been significantly weakened in a part of the U.S. that was vital to the operations of their heinous deportation machine. In 2021, undocumented residents in New Jersey could also obtain drivers licenses for the first time, an important victory won by organizers that makes it less likely that immigrants will be detained after a traffic stop. As we continue the fight for immigrant justice in New Jersey, we must also fight to fully enfranchise the hundreds of thousands of non-citizens living and working in the Garden State. 

There are many impediments to calling America a true democracy. From extreme gerrymandering to voter ID laws to the very structure of the Electoral College and Senate, we know that the U.S. is far from being a democracy of the muliracial and multinational working class. However, enfranchising hundreds of thousands of our fellow New Jerseyans is an important step that we as democratic socialists will fight for in the struggle to build working class power and create a true democracy. 

NNJDSA calls on all municipalities in New Jersey to follow New York City’s example and pass noncitizen voting ordinances before the next election. We also call on Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature to pass non-citizen voting at the state level immediately. 

If you are interested in organizing to make this happen in New Jersey, please get involved by reaching out to Brett Robertson (wbrettrobertson@yahoo.com), lead organizer of the Immigrant Justice Working Group of NNJDSA.

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