Paterson: Suffer the Aliens

The State GOP’s attempt to rope Eliot Spitzer into a debate over restoring the vote to felons (haven’t yet heard from the Spitzer camp where Eliot stands on this), reminded me that Spitzer’s running mate, David Paterson, has proposed a different plan for extending the franchise.

In 1995, Paterson was the prime sponsor of a bill (S3720) to extending voting rights to legal aliens. Under his plans, non-citizen permanent residents who have held green cards for three years, live in the state for three years, and applied for citizenship, would be allowed to vote in local elections in New York City and other locales that decide to extend the franchise.

The politics of this, statewide, seem a bit risky for Paterson and his running mate.

The policy argument is interesting though. At its root, it’s “No taxation without representation,” and non-citizens (if they were propertied white men) voted in the early days of the Republic. Some more background, on both sides, in this story, from when a charter commission briefly considered the issue.