The city of San Francisco this week began allowing non-citizens, including illegal immigrants, to register to vote in the November election for the city school board.
The effort follows the city's passage of a 2016 ballot measure that gave the right to vote in school board elections to non-U.S. citizens over age 18 who live in San Francisco and have children under age 19, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The measure was approved by a majority of San Francisco's eligible voters, but after the first two attempts failed.
“This is no-brainer legislation,” Hillary Ronen, of the city’s Board of Supervisors, told the publication. “Why would we not want our parents invested in the education of their children?”
"This is no-brainer legislation. ... Why would we not want our parents invested in the education of their children?"
“As a parent myself and a former member of the SF Board of Education it is critical that the voices of all parents are at the table, particularly those that have historically been denied a voice in the process,” Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer said.
“We want to give immigrants the right to vote,” Supervisor Norman Yee told KGO.
A similar initiative of giving limited voting rights has also reportedly been approved in Chicago and multiple cities in Maryland and Massachusetts.
But other San Francisco residents are expressing dismay with non-citizens becoming eligible to vote in certain elections.
“The reason I voted against it is that I think the right to vote is something that goes along with citizenship -- and should be,” said Harmeet Dhillon, a member of the Republican National Committee.
"The reason I voted against it is that I think the right to vote is something that goes along with citizenship -- and should be."
Some supporters of the measure, though celebrating, also expressed reservations that it could be weaponized by the federal government to crack down on illegal immigrants.
"The victory is that San Franciscans voted for this. In the face of what's happening nationwide now, we stand strong. ... But there is also a risk. So we as San Franciscans have set aside a fund to make sure that these immigrant communities are fully educated on their rights, but also their risks in this time and place in our country," Fewer told the Chronicle.
She said it’s not clear whether non-citizens’ voting registry could be hidden from the federal records, because voting records are considered public information.
"I think in this case in particular, what is very risky is that we don't know where this president will go," she added. "Are there risks involved? Absolutely. But quite frankly, there are risks involved for all of us with the Trump administration.”
The measure granting non-citizens the right to vote will expire in 2022, but can be renewed by the Board of Supervisors, reports said.