School Board Elections and Legal Permanent Resident Parents’ Ability to Vote

School Board Elections and Legal Permanent Resident Parents’ Ability to Vote


Gustavo Arrellano has an interesting opinion piece in today’s Los Angeles Times arguing for parents’ ability to vote in local elections, regardless of their immigration status. San Francisco passed an initiative authorizing resident immigrant parents to vote in local school board elections. A small number of municipalities in Maryland already allow such voting for legal permanent resident parents. Boston is considering it, and Chicago already allows it.  Forty states allowed it in the past, but during the nativist periods such as the 1920’s, most repealed the ability of non citizen legal residents to vote in local and state elections.

It seems to me that if you pay state and local taxes and send your children to public schools you have a strong interest in voting for those who decide local school policies as to how well your children are being educated.                              

There is an interesting article by David Earnest looking at the policies of 26 different nations regarding voting rights for non-citizens. Only New Zealand and Uruguay allow all their legal permanent residents to vote in national elections.  However a surprisingly larger number, including Spain, Norway, Netherlands and a number of Latin American nations, such as Chile, permit voting in local elections. He hypothesized that factors, such as EU membership, left wing parties, activist judiciaries, etc., would account for extending the voting franchise. In fact it was right wing parties and legislative majorities (not the judiciary) that were commonly associated with expanding the franchise. EU membership was negatively associated with extending the franchise as was proportional representative voting. 


Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin

Dated: July 25, 2018


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