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Non-Citizens Eligible To Vote In San Francisco School Board Recall May Have Crucial Role In Outcome

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – A new group of voters will have a say in the upcoming San Francisco School Board recall election, and could have enough force to play a crucial role in the outcome.

On the steps of the Asian American Art Museum, parents and leaders gathered in support Friday of the upcoming recall election against three San Francisco Unified School District board members.

Thanks to a San Francisco charter change in 2018, non-citizen parents will have a chance to vote in this election and all future SFUSD school board election.

Cynthia Choi from Chinese for Affirmative Action was among those pushing for the charter change for years.

"It's such a fundamental democratic right and process that in matters that affect your life and in this case, their children's life, that they have a right to vote on matters and that they have input on matters that affect their child's education," Choi told KPIX 5.

The Chinese API voter outreach task force has already signed up 228 non-citizens to vote in the upcoming recall.

"These new voters live in neighborhoods all across San Francisco and are primarily low income or non-English speaking residents," said Lawrence Lee at a news conference of recall supporters.

Many factors are driving these new voters to register, including issues with school closures, distance learning, re-naming schools, mismanaged funds and this,

"The most sensitive part is the Lowell admissions - the merit based admissions criteria being removed so quickly without taking any community input and understanding why the community is against it. They just pushed it right through," one parent told KPIX 5.

More than 1/3 of the students in SFUSD come from immigrant families of all nationalities and 17,000 are English language learners.

Choi said this chance to have a voice in school board elections is historic and vitally important. "Many of our parents have been involved in our schools as volunteers, have been involved on various committees, but this is such an important one because school board members make decisions on policy priorities, curriculum, investments in the schools," she said.

The last day for non-citizen parents to register to vote in the recall elections in January 31st and the recall election is slated for February 15th.

Additional information, including details about drop box locations and early voting, can be found on the website of the Department of Elections.

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