Last week, a state appellate court ruled that noncitizen parents can vote this November in the San Francisco school board election!
This ruling, at least for now, affirms what San Francisco voters had already decided 6 years ago — that all parents, regardless of citizenship, should have a say in the direction of their children’s education, in a city where over one of three students has a parent who is a noncitizen.
I have been a passionate champion on this issue for almost two decades, ever since I learned that noncitizens were able to vote in many states during the first 150 years of American history, and that they have been permitted to vote in other cities across the country in recent years.
In 2004, I led the first ballot campaign to allow noncitizen parents to vote in San Francisco school board elections, but we unfortunately lost by an incredibly small margin of 49% – 51%. In 2010, as President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, I put the same measure on the ballot, but we lost again. But in 2016, due to a heroic campaign by our immigrant and civil rights communities, San Francisco voters finally passed Proposition N.
For six years, the program was operational with no issues through four school board elections. Unfortunately, a few months ago, conservative groups decided to challenge the program, and a state judge ruled against the program last month.
Our San Francisco City Attorney’s Office decided to appeal the ruling, and last week, the appellate court ruled that noncitizen parents can vote in the November school board election while the full appeal is being considered.
Noncitizen voting is not only legal, but beneficial to all of our communities. Any time we engage more parents in the future of our schools, it lifts up the quality of our schools for everyone. I’m grateful that the First District Court of Appeal ensured this crucial program will remain in place through at least this November election, and hope our city sets an example as Oakland, San Jose and Los Angeles currently consider similar expansions of voting rights.
It is more important than ever that we let all immigrant parents know that they will have a say this November. Can you help us spread the word, friends?
Thank you for being part of our inclusive democracy!