PRO & CONS – Prop N – November 8, 2016

PROPOSITION N – NON-CITIZEN VOTING IN SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS

Charter Amendment

Placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors

Requires a simple majority for passage

THE QUESTION:

Shall the City allow a non-citizen resident of San Francisco who is of legal voting age and the parent, legal guardian or legally recognized caregiver of a child living in the San Francisco Unified School District to vote for members of the Board of Education?

BACKGROUND:

A similar measure was previously on the ballot in 2010 as Proposition D, as well as in 2004, and was defeated both times.

The San Francisco Unified School District operates public schools in San Francisco for students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12.

The San Francisco Board of Education oversees the School District, including

  • establishing educational goals and standards;
  • approving curriculum;
  • setting the district budget;
  • confirming appointment of all personnel; and
  • approving purchases of equipment, supplies, services, leases, renovation, construction, and union contracts.

The Board of Education appoints a superintendent of schools, who is responsible for managing the day-to-day administration of the district.

The Board of Education has seven members who are elected by San Francisco voters to serve four-year terms. Elections for members of the Board of Education are held in November of even-numbered years.

San Francisco residents who are 18 years of age or older, United States citizens, and not in prison or on parole for a felony conviction are eligible to register to vote in San Francisco elections.

THE PROPOSAL:

Proposition N would amend the City Charter to allow parents, legal guardians, or caregivers of children under the age of 19 to vote in San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education elections regardless of U.S. citizenship status, so long as the parent, legal guardian, or caregiver meets the City Charter’s minimum age requirements for voting in a municipal election, they are otherwise not disqualified from voting, and the child resides in the San Francisco Unified School District. “Caregiver” is defined in California Family Code section 6550.

This proposal would expire after the third election where non-citizens are permitted to vote for members of the Board of Education. However, afterwards, under the amendment, the Board of Supervisors could pass ordinances permitting non-citizens to vote for members of the Board of Education.

A “YES” Vote Means: If you vote “yes,” you want to allow a non-citizen resident of San Francisco who is of legal voting age and the parent, legal guardian or legally recognized caregiver of a child living in the San Francisco Unified School District to vote for members of the Board of Education.

A “NO” Vote Means: If you vote “no,” you do not want to make this change.

ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF PROP N:

  • Allowing non-citizens to vote on school board elections allows parents and others with or caring for children in San Francisco schools to have a voice in their education.
  • This would be a pilot program for expanding voting rights to non-citizens so they can be involved in community politics affecting their lives and their families: the proposition sunsets in 2022.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST PROP N:

  • Changing voter qualifications for specific elections or issues creates confusion in administering elections.
  • This expands voting rights beyond what state law allows, creating questions about its legality.
  • Voting rights should remain a privilege of adult citizens.

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