In just a few days, immigrants who are not yet citizens will go to the polls in San Francisco and legally vote.
This is the first election under a new law that allows non-citizens to vote in the city’s school board elections. To date, only 35 non-citizens have registered to vote, although California allows voters to sign up on election day, The Associated Press reported.
Those who supported the measure said that because the children of non-citizens are in the city’s schools, voting rules needed to change.
“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,” said Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer of District 1, according to the New York Post.
Fewer said non-citizens have been restrained from exercising their vote by the temper of the times.
“We’re in an unprecedented arena of animosity toward our immigrant community, and that has really stopped people from voting,” she said.
Harmeet Dhillon, an attorney and member of the National Republican Committee, said the new step is flat-out wrong.
“Voting is a sacred privilege and a sacred right of citizens. It should not be trivialized for political gain,” she said.
In an Op-Ed for Fox News, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the San Francisco law is part of a dangerous political trend.
” …the long-range plans Democrats have for a ruling majority depend on continuous law-breaking to get enough non-Americans to vote. The Californians who don’t support the radical views of Democrats can simply be eclipsed by non-citizen voters supporting the Democrats,” he wrote.
Gingrich said Congress should make the issue plain.
“A sound immediate step would be for Congress to pass a law reaffirming that you must be an American citizen to vote in all American elections. Let’s see how many Democrats would oppose this simple requirement,” he wrote.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation has found that, legal or not, non-citizens are registering in states such as Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia.
The group found that in Virginia, about 5,600 voters on the rolls were not citizens, and that a third had voted in past elections.
“Our voter registration system masks non-citizens and allows the opportunity to vote until they decide to self-report at their own peril. All of this could have been prevented if states actually verified citizen eligibility upfront,” said Logan Churchwell, communications and research director for the foundation.
Voter rolls have become controversial. Late last year, the conservative activist group Judicial Watch sued California because 11 counties in the state had voter registration percentages greater than 100 percent of the “age-eligible” population, according to a news release from the group.
“California may have the dirtiest election rolls in the country,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. “Federal law requires states to take reasonable steps to clean up their voting rolls. Dirty voting rolls can mean dirty elections. This lawsuit aims to ensure that citizens of California can have more confidence that their elections are fair and honest.”
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