Non-Citizens Can Now Register to Vote in School Board Race

Immigrant parents will have more voice over their children's education — with a huge caveat that ICE can access their registration information.

(Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

In a time of deep uncertainty for immigrants, non-citizen parents have at least one reassurance in San Francisco: They can now register to vote for the local school board election.

The Department of Elections Monday began creating voter registration forms that allow San Francisco parents, caregivers, and legal guardians of children under 19 years old to register to vote for the November election — no citizenship required.  Other requirements do include being a resident of San Francisco, at least 18 years old on Election Day, not imprisoned or on parole for a felony conviction. Those found mentally incompetent by a court are also ineligible to vote.

More than half of the children in San Francisco have one or more immigrant parents, according to the Mission Economic Development Agency. The group also touts a 2002 report that found parental involvement boosts for their children’s chances of higher grades, attendance, social skills and eventual college education.

As joyous as this new right it may be for some parents, others may opt out due to fear of disclosing their status. The same November 2016 election that passed Proposition N to make voting possible for non-citizen parents also brought in the Trump administration, which has been immensely unfriendly to immigrants.

After hearing those concerns, supervisors in May approved the addition of a notice that would warn immigrant parents that registering to vote does put them at risk. It offers a reminder that by voting, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other government agencies can obtain their address and name.

The notice also warns that they may be asked if they ever registered to vote or voted in a United States election and offers a link to immigration nonprofits that can offer consultation. It comes in 48 languages.

Parents have until October 22 — 15 days before the November general election — to register to vote, though they can also visit Room 48 at City Hall after the deadline to register as a conditional voter. For more information and to register, visit the Department of Elections website, in person or call 415-554-4375.

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