Politicians in San Francisco are hoping that a backlash to Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric will motivate local voters to move in the opposite direction and grant non-citizens the right to vote.
An amendment to the city charter will be placed on the ballot in November to allow the parents and guardians of schoolchildren – citizen or non, documented or undocumented – to vote in school board elections, following a 10-1 vote by the board of supervisors on Tuesday.
“San Francisco always goes against the grain when there are assaults on people’s liberties,” said supervisor Eric Mar, who sponsored the proposal.
“This is about fairness and equity, providing an opportunity for all parents to have a voice.”
This will be San Francisco voters’ third chance to approve such a measure, after unsuccessful efforts in 2004 and 2010
This year, advocates are hoping that voter distaste with the vehement anti-immigrant stance of the Republican party will help push the city’s notoriously liberal electorate over the edge.
GOPUSA Editor’s Note: As you can see, this liberal writer is clearly fired up, but the topic is presented here so that you can know what’s going on out there. When a so-called “journalist” writes about the “vehement anti-immigrant stance of the Republican party,” you know there’s an agenda. Conservatives are against ILLEGAL immigration. Why do these idiots fail to see that? And the right to vote is for CITIZENS of this country. If you want to vote, become a citizen.
“As Trumpist rhetoric continues to spew xenophobia, we have an obligation to stand up against that national tide and for inclusivity,” state assembly member David Chiu wrote in an op-ed supporting the measure.
“I think in a year where we are seeing so much vitriol against our immigrant communities at the national level, particularly from our Republican nominee for president, it is more important than ever for San Francisco to stand up and say that we support our immigrant community,” said supervisor Jane Kim.
About one-third of San Francisco’s 60,000 public school students have an immigrant parent or guardian, and the majority of them are not citizens. Mar estimates that there are a further 60,000 private and parochial schoolchildren in the city, so the change could increase the number of voters in school board elections by tens of thousands.
San Francisco would join a small club of municipalities with non-citizen voting, including a handful of cities in Maryland, where non-citizens can vote in local elections, and Chicago, where non-citizens can vote in school council elections.
The idea of non-citizens voting may seem radical today, but it has a long history in the US.
“Voting is not inevitably, naturally tied to citizenship,” said Ron Hayduk, a professor of political science at Queens College, CUNY.
Hayduk points out that many states allowed immigrants to vote until the early 20th century, and that, for much of US history, many citizens (including non-property owning men, women, and African Americans) were barred from doing so.
Despite that history, most Americans are opposed to immigrant voting, said Jack Citrin, professor of political science and director of Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley.
“People expect immigrants to assimilate and fulfill basic civic obligations to get the right of citizenship,” he said. “It’s viewed as a hurdle that people should get over to have political rights.”
Still, when Citrin polled Californians on whether immigrants should be able to vote, serve on juries, or run for local offices in 2014, he found that people were persuadable.
“When we said, ‘These are people who pay local, state and federal taxes,’ it boosted support,” he noted.
Sarah Song, a professor of law and political science at UC Berkeley, said that non-citizen voting could have positive effects on immigrant communities, including greater “participation and civic engagement in local politics” and a “greater sense of belonging and identification with the local community that immigrants have come to call home”.
The lone voice of opposition on the San Francisco board of supervisors was Mark Farrell, who spoke of the importance of naturalization to his mother, an immigrant from Germany.
“I do wonder about a slippery slope,” he said. “If it’s school boards, why not supervisors? Why not anything else in this country?”
Immigrants are not the only group that could gain a say in local elections in San Francisco. Voters in November will also have the chance to expand voting rights in local elections to 16- and 17-year-olds.
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