ALBANY — Most New York voters want marijuana legalized for recreational use and oppose allowing immigrants in the country illegally to obtain driver’s licenses, according to a poll released Monday.
The findings in the Siena Research Institute poll don’t align with Albany politics, where the bill to legalize marijuana is foundering and Democrats are trying to find a way to authorize driver’s licenses for immigrants in the United States illegally.
Legalizing marijuana was supported by a 55-40 percent margin, including 61 percent of Democrats. Fifty-five percent of Republicans oppose the measure, according to the poll.
The poll found voters opposed the driver’s license measure by 55 to 41, although 53 percent of Democrats support it. Eighty-two percent of Republicans oppose the measure.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and progressive Democratic majority leaders of the State Senate and Assembly support legalizing marijuana beyond medicinal uses, but the more moderate contingent of Long Island senators stands in the way. Similarly, the coalition of six Long Island senators so far is not supporting the authorization of driver’s licenses for immigrants in the country illegally, citing opposition from their constituents, law enforcement and medical professionals.
In the New York City suburbs, including Long Island, providing driver’s licenses to immigrants not in the country legally was opposed 52-40 percent. Supporters say the bill would make the roads safer and allow immigrants to get to work and to day care without threatening public safety. Since 2007, when then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer tried to adopt a license measure, opponents have feared that driver's licenses would be used by terrorists to gain access to sensitive areas. Legalizing marijuana was supported in the suburbs 55-39 percent.
Both issues are major goals of the progressives who won control of the Senate in November’s elections and who continue to rule the Assembly.
A majority of New Yorkers continues to oppose the licenses measure, said Steven Greenberg of the Siena poll. It is “supported by Democrats, as well as black, Latino and younger voters … white voters and voters 55 and older oppose it, while New York City voters are evenly divided.”
The poll also found strong support for eliminating the religious exemption for vaccinating children, another major issue with which the legislature and Cuomo are wrestling in the waning session, scheduled to end June 19.
The poll interviewed 812 voters by telephone from June 2 to 6 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.