The front page of last Sunday’s New York Times Metro section made much of the emergence of immigrants as an increasingly important voting bloc in New York City electoral politics, particularly with a view toward next year’s municipal elections.
The acknowlegment of immigrant voting power flies in the face of conventional wisdom, which has long said immigrants are not as engaged in US politics as those of their home countries.
According to the New Americans Exit Poll Project (conducted by Columbia University) and a recent analysis by CUNY’s Center for Urban Research, the number of immigrant voters is on the rise in New York City. What’s more, immigrants are responsible for much of the expansion of the city’s electorate.The CUNY study found at least a third of new voters added to the city’s voter rolls since 2004 were Russian, Chinese, Korean, or Muslim. These new faces and ethnicities in the city’s electorate join the roughly one million immigrants already registered to vote in New York.
According to the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), a nonpartisan immigrant advocacy group that registers new citizens to vote, over 265,000 immigrants have been added to the city’s voter rolls since 1996.In a city where City Council races are won and lost by a margin of 5,000 votes, this infusion of new voters puts a distinctly New York spin on the nation’s growing realization that immigrant voters are crucial to political races.