LAWSUIT: NYC Board of Elections Violated the Voting Rights Act & the 15th Amendment of the United States Constitution

Published On: August 29th, 2022

 Lawsuit alleges that NYC’s foreign citizens voting law was passed with an unconstitutional racial intent and hurts black voters.

(New York City, NY) – August 29, 2022: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) filed a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York against the New York City Board of Elections. The lawsuit alleges that the foreign citizen voting bill violates the 15th Amendment of the U.S Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The Foundation’s clients are Phyllis Coachman, Deroy Murdock, Katherine James, and Anthony Gilhuys. All four are black NYC voters and American citizens.

In January, New York City enacted a law that allows foreign citizens to cast ballots in the city’s municipal elections. Sponsors of the law spoke in favor of giving the right to vote to certain racial groups and made explicit statements about the racial purpose of the law.

The 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibit election procedures from being enacted with any racial discriminatory intent. The evidence in the complaint illustrates the foreign citizen voting law was passed with racial intent, and therefore is unconstitutional.

The U.S. Census data demonstrates that foreigners voting will harm the voting strength of black Americans in New York City, and that the sponsors knew this ahead of time. Of the approximately 1 million foreign nationals in New York City, approximately 488,000 are Hispanic and 343,000 are Asian. The sponsors of the law were aware of this racial composition and passed the bill with the intent to increase the political power of some racial groups and decrease the power of others.

“New York City Council members made explicit statements that race motivated this law,” said PILF President J. Christian Adams. “Election laws cannot have a racial motive. The 15th Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibit any race-based voting restrictions. Our four plaintiffs, along with all the other black NYC voters are being harmed and discriminated against by New York City.”

Maureen Riordan, a native New Yorker and former Department of Justice Voting Section lawyer is counsel for PILF. Adams is also another DOJ Voting Section lawyer and was counsel in multiple similar and successful voting rights cases alleging an impermissible racial intent in election laws including Davis v. Guam, 932 F.3d 822 (9th Cir. 2019) (certdenied, No. 19-827 (U.S. 2020).

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is the nation’s only public interest law firm dedicated wholly to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections. PILF has brought lawsuits and won victories in Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and across the United States.


Public Interest Legal Foundation