Bill would let non-citizen parents vote for school board, but immigration activist Tsao asks what about non-parents?

Fred Tsao
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Bill would let non-citizen parents vote for school board, but immigration activist Tsao asks what about non-parents? (Chicago, IL) – Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) senior policy counsel member Fred Tsao has questions about a bill that would allow non-citizens to cast votes in school board elections.

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“I did want to flag three issues and for the record I have discussed each of these issues with Sen. (Celina) Villanueva (D-Summit),” Tsao said. “First off, as drafted, the bill seems unclear regarding how voting would work, where that would take place. The bill states that non-citizens can ask for a ballot for only the candidates for the school board election but it does not state to whom such requests would be directed or otherwise state where those ballots would be cast.”

Senate Bill 1565 seeks to amend the School Code to require the State Board of Education to “create a voter registration affidavit that shall be the exclusive means by which a noncitizen of the United States may register to vote in school board elections.”

The measure further seeks to establish that elections conducted under the provisions are considered non-state elections and are not subject to the citizenship requirement in the Illinois Constitution.

“The bill also makes no mention of local election authorities so it’s not clear which body would run a school board election,” Tsao said. “These are all points that need to be clarified and we’re happy to join in the conversation as these provisions get fleshed out.”

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Tsao said he’s also concerned with the way the bill seeks to limit non-citizen registration to parents, legal guardians and caregivers of children who will be under age 19 on the date of the election.

“Non-parents, such as myself, often have a significant stake in the community and in the education of the children of their community,” he said. “I would note that currently we do not restrict voting for school boards to parents, guardians and caregivers among citizens and I would ask that no similar restriction be placed on non-citizen voting either.”

Tsao said ICIRR looks forward to working with Villanueva and other lawmakers in crafting legislation in the area of education that benefits immigrant families.

Bill would let non-citizen parents vote for school board, but immigration activist Tsao asks what about non-parents?

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