San Francisco allowing noncitizens to vote in school board elections

Voting booths
Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

San Francisco is about to become the largest U.S. city to allow noncitizens, including undocumented immigrants, to vote in school board races, reports the AP.

The backstory: Voters approved a proposal in 2016 to allow noncitizens with children in the city's school district to vote in local school board elections. Supporters say it would give immigrant parents a voice in how the city's public schools are operated.

The details: As of Monday, the registration deadline, only 35 noncitizens have signed up to do so, per the AP, citing the San Francisco's Department of Elections. State law allows people to register and vote on Election Day. The policy requires them to provide their address and date of birth to register.

The backdrop: Noncitizens are prohibited from voting in federal and statewide elections under federal law, but states and municipalities can set their own policies.

  • In Chicago, noncitizens are also allowed to vote in school board elections. 
  • College Park, Md. will allow noncitizens, including undocumented immigrants and student visa holders, to vote in local elections starting next year, per the Washington Post.
  • Ten other municipalities in Maryland's Montgomery and Prince George’s counties also allow noncitizens to vote in local elections, per the Baltimore Sun.

Flashback: Forty states had allowed noncitizens to vote in local and federal elections from 1776 until the 1920s, according to Ron Hayduk, a political scientist at San Francisco State University.