Can non-citizens vote in Santa Ana? That won’t be decided in the 2022 election – Orange County Register

Should foreigners be allowed to vote in local elections?

Santa Ana officials were considering asking voters the question in the Nov. 8 vote as part of a multi-part measure to amend the city’s charter. But ultimately, they put the matter on hold — at least for now.

City Manager Kristine Ridge told council members during an Aug. 2 meeting that there are “numerous legal, policy and implementation issues that need to be addressed” before such a proposal can be presented to voters. She said there was not enough time to address these concerns before November’s general election.

A majority of the council earlier this year directed city officials to look into the matter after Councilman Johnathan Ryan Hernandez floated the idea of ​​giving non-US residents the opportunity to vote in city and school board elections vote. Some cities have introduced similar rules but have faced legal challenges; Some laws were struck down in court.

Not all council members want to see that undocumented immigrants at the ballot box. Councilwoman Nelida Mendoza, a U.S. Army veteran, said voting is a privilege reserved for citizens: “It is not appropriate that non-citizens should be given that privilege.”

RELATED: Santa Ana’s Measure X includes lifetime term limits for mayor, city councilman

RELATED: Santa Ana’s Measure W would restructure the city’s non-cannabis business tax rate

Numerous cities in Maryland and Vermont, as well as San Francisco and New York, have or had similar laws to grant undocumented immigrants or legal residents but no citizenship the right to vote in local elections.

In June, a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled against a city law that would have allowed non-citizens to vote in local elections beginning in January 2023. And in July, a judge overturned a San Francisco law that allowed non-US citizens to vote in school board elections.

Under federal law, it is unlawful for a non-citizen to vote in a federal election.

Santa Ana is a Latino-majority city with nearly 79% of residents speaking a language other than English at home, according to the latest US Census data.

Orange County has an estimated 300,000 illegal residents, according to the Washington, DC-based Migration Policy Institute

“It’s a fair question to ask,” Mayor Vicente Sarmiento said during the Aug. 2 meeting. But the issue needs further scrutiny before it is presented to voters, he continued.

“This can be addressed for a future Council. This could be an issue for a future school board to address,” Sarmiento said, noting that in cities like San Francisco, the issue was first raised by school boards.

Sarmiento, whose term as mayor ends this year, suggested the issue could come back to voters in 2024.

Hernandez reiterated in text messages Monday, “We’re trying to get this back in time for the 2024 election.”

While a proposed change to the city’s charter that would allow non-citizens to vote did not make it onto Measure X, numerous other changes are part of the voting proposal. A key provision would impose strict term limits or a lifetime ban on a resident serving three four-year terms on the council and four two-year terms as the city’s mayor — 20 years in total.

Another question Santa Ana voters are asking is Measure W, which aims to restructure the city’s tax rate and fees for non-cannabis business licenses. Can non-citizens vote in Santa Ana? That won’t be decided in the 2022 election – Orange County Register

Dais Johnston

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