Letting non-citizens vote

And equitable COVID-19 federal aid

Hi all,

I apologize it’s been a minute since the last newsletter. While I have two stories to share today, I actually spent the last month doing research for a piece I’m hoping to apply for an investigative grant to. I’ll write the story either way — but my hope is that this research investment pays off so I can do a more comprehensive thing! Anyway, fingers crossed on that.

Today I have a story in The Intercept on a bill that recently earned supermajority support on the NYC city council, to enfranchise permanent residents and non-citizens with work authorizations like DACA recipients and those with Temporary Protected Status. In New York, this would amount to 900,000 people becoming eligible to vote in local elections. Eric Adams, who just won the Democratic primary there for mayor, is also a strong supporter of the bill.

Non-citizen voting has a long, and often-overlooked/ forgotten history in the U.S. Particularly for residents here legally and paying taxes, some communities are happy to say why shouldn’t they have a say in who governs them on the local level? And it actually was legal on the federal level until 1996. There is no constitutional ban on non-citizen voting, and more than 45 countries on almost every continent allow resident noncitizens to vote at the local, regional, or national level including the European Union, South Korea, and New Zealand. There’s also a pending bill in Washington D.C. to permit green-card holders to vote in local elections, and I hope my elected officials pass that. We are a city that talks a lot about taxation without representation! You can read the story here.

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I also had an Intercept story the other week about a little-known amendment in the federal American Rescue Plan Act that strips 23 states of more than a quarter of recovery aid for small towns. It’s a wonky story but following how authorized money actually goes out, through distribution formulas and bureaucratic hurdles, is I’d argue more important than the flashy press releases senators put out at after a bill is signed. In practical terms, had the Senate not made its obscure five-word legislative change, Pennsylvania would have received almost $689 million more in aid, and New York and Ohio would have also received over $500 million more. Sixteen states in total would have gotten about 70 percent more federal aid for their small-town economic recoveries under the House’s version. When I started asking people about why they made this change, their answers generally conflicted with one another.

The amendment was flagged by analysts at a data consulting firm Civilytics who actually read this newsletter, so friendly reminder to pitch me if you have ideas or spot suspicious/curious things! There are two days left to submit public comment to the U.S Treasury on this funding distribution. You can read the story here.

Thanks for reading. I hope you’re having a nice summer. And I hope it’s less hot and humid where you are than here!

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