San Francisco, CA. - San Francisco is now the first city in California to allow non-citizens to vote in elections.
In the November 2016 election, San Francisco voters passed Proposition N, the Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections measure by a vote of 54% to 46%. It was enacted by the Board of Supervisors in May.
The statute reads "Proposition N gives voting rights in San Francisco School Board elections to non-citizen residents of San Francisco who are of legal voting age, not in prison or on parole for a felony conviction, and who are parents, legal guardians, or legally recognized caregivers of children under the age of 19 living in San Francisco."
And Supervisor Norman Yee, "We want to give immigrants the right to vote."
Opposition Speaks Out
This clears the way for non-citizens to act pretty much as citizens in California, just go down the list:
- Drivers licenses, check.
- Immigrant children, even the undocumented, eligible for state-paid medical insurance under Medi-Cal, check.
- In-state college tuition, check.
- Practice law under a 2013 bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, check.
And now, voting rights. The San Francisco law means non-citizens now can indirectly help decide how taxpayer money will be spent, by the billions of dollars.
Harmeet Dhillon attended the launch event in San Francisco. She says she voted against the measure in 2016. "The reason I voted against it is that I think the right to vote is something that goes along with citizenship and should be." Dhillon says the school board is already obligated to look out for the interests of all children in the system. "I don't think that people who have otherwise tenuous ties to San Francisco given their lack of legal residence should be making long term decisions about that structure and process," said Dhillon.
Non-citizen voting will be available at every Board of Education election until November 2022. It will expire then unless the Board of Supervisors adopts an ordinance allowing it to continue.