A group of Black New Yorkers sued the Big Apple’s Board of Elections, claiming that the new law allowing noncitizens to cast ballots in local elections violates federal civil rights law because the New York City Council passed the law in order to strengthen the voting power of certain racial groups, diluting the votes of other groups.

“They explicitly used race as a factor of demarking the voter groups that they wanted to give this privilege to and that is a direct violation of the 15th Amendment,” former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a member of the board of directors at the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), which filed the lawsuit, told Fox News.

The 15th Amendment states that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

“Discriminatory intent may be established by proof that race was a motivating factor by proponents of the law,” the lawsuit states. “Overwhelming direct and circumstantial evidence exists that the Foreign Citizen Voting Bill was enacted with an impermissible racial intent.”

The lawsuit cites Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, a sponsor of the bill Intro 1867-A, who said – in Spanish – that the bill would increase the power of Hispanics and Asians. 

The lawsuit also claimed that Council Member Antonio Reynoso also framed the legislation along racial lines. “When white power or white men’s power is being attacked, what they consider being attacked, they stand up and they fight,” he said while advocating for the bill. “They fight to preserve their power and their influence…. have to stop and think about this sea of mostly white men that have stood up against this bill at this moment in an effort to preserve their power and influence, and that is exactly what will happen every time you challenge power.”

The lawsuit also cites then-Council President Lauri Cumbo, who noted that the bill “is going to shift the power dynamics in New York City in a major way, and we do not have the numbers or the information to know how that is going to impact African-American communities who have been the most vulnerable in their existence in New York City. …. I’ve never heard in this one discussion about how is the African-American voter going to be impacted by this bill.”

The lawsuit notes that the City Council passed the bill despite such concerns.

According to the 2019 American Community Survey of the U.S. Census, 1,219,776 foreign nationals reside in Bronx, Kings, New York, and Queens Counties, and of that total, 488,030 are Hispanic and 343,018 are Asian. New York City has approximately five million active registered voters, so foreign citizen voters could make up 15% or more of the electorate in future local elections, the lawsuit notes. This is greater than the margin of victory in many municipal elections.

“It is discriminatory and unconstitutional on its face,” Blackwell said of the law. “I am confident that this is a case that these plaintiffs will win.”

“By their chosen language and the argument that they chose to advance this, they gave us a constitutional basis on which to challenge this law,” the PILF board member told Fox News Digital.

As former mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, Blackwell told Fox News that he has “serious problems” with “the erosion of American citizenship” involved in allowing noncitizens to vote. Even so, he acknowledged that municipalities have the independence to make their own laws on such matters.

 “While municipalities might have the right to let aliens vote on municipal issues, they don’t have the right to dilute the electoral power of an American citizen on the basis of race,” he concluded.

The New York City Board of Elections did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment by press time.