OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A San Francisco city ordinance that gave non-citizens the right to vote has been short-lived.
Superior Court Richard Ulmer said that votes of non-citizens for local school board races will not count.
The ordinance, which was passed in 2016 and took effect two years later, allowed parents of non-citizens to participate in school board elections. The measure was extended indefinitely in 2021, and was subsequently challenged by several groups such as the United States Justice Foundation and the California Public Policy Foundation, The Daily Wire reported.
“The State of California has a long-standing requirement that voters must be United States citizens,” argued the plaintiffs in the case. “This requirement applies to every election in the state, even those conducted by charter cities because determining voter qualifications is a matter of statewide concern where state law supersedes conflicting charter city ordinances.”
Ulmer agreed with that argument.
“Transcendent law of California, the Constitution … reserves the right to vote to a United States citizen, contrary to (the) San Francisco ordinance,” he wrote in his ruling that now prohibits non-citizens from casting school board ballots.
Plaintiffs further argued that since the San Francisco Unified School District also takes in funding from state taxpayers, all of California has a legitimate interest in voter qualifications for board elections. Also, the suit argued that the city does not have unlimited autonomy to say who is and is not eligible to cast ballots.
Last month, the New York State Supreme Court struck down a similar provision passed by New York City allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections.
Earlier in the year, the New York City Council approved a measure to give non-citizens the right to vote in local elections, but Republican lawmakers filed a lawsuit against the measure, arguing that non-citizens in the state have no rights to vote in any election.
The plan would have added roughly 800,000 New Yorkers to the voting rolls and would have allowed them to vote for mayor, public advocate, city council, borough presidents, and school boards.
Justice Ralph Porzio ruled that the law was a violation of the New York State Constitution, which he said “expressly states that citizens meeting the age and residency requirements are entitled to register and vote in elections.”
“Though voting is a right so many citizens take for granted, the City of New York cannot ‘obviate’ the restrictions imposed by the Constitution,” Porzio continued, going on to say that “the weight of the citizens’ vote will be diluted by municipal voters and candidates and political parties alike will need to reconfigure their campaigns.”
In striking down the law, Porzio said that “Though Plaintiffs have not suffered harm today, the harm they will suffer is imminent.”
Republican lawmakers were pleased with the ruling.
“A New York State Supreme Court Judge just ruled against New York City’s new law allowing non-citizen voting. This is great news. Only United States citizens should be voting in our elections!” Rep. Lee Zeldin, who represents New York’s 1st Congressional District and is running for governor.
A New York State Supreme Court Judge just ruled against New York City’s new law allowing non-citizen voting. This is great news. Only United States citizens should be voting in our elections!
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) June 27, 2022
“The New York State Supreme Court just STRUCK DOWN NYC’s law that would have allowed noncitizens to vote. Voting is a sacred right for American citizens, and we should never allow it to be diminished or eroded,” Rep. Claudia Tenney, who represents the state’s 22nd Congressional District, added.
🚨The New York State Supreme Court just STRUCK DOWN NYC’s law that would have allowed noncitizens to vote.
Voting is a sacred right for American citizens, and we should never allow it to be diminished or eroded. #ElectionIntegrityCaucus
— Rep. Claudia Tenney (@RepTenney) June 27, 2022
Staten Island City Councilman Joe Borelli also applauded the ruling.
“Today’s decision validates those of us who can read the plain English words of our state constitution and state statutes: Noncitizen voting in New York is illegal, and shame on those who thought they could skirt the law for political gain,” he said.
“Opposition to this measure was bipartisan and cut across countless neighborhood and ethnic lines, yet progressives chose to ignore both our constitution and public sentiment in order to suit their aims. I commend the court in recognizing reality and reminding New York’s professional protestor class that the rule of law matters,” Borelli added.