Non-citizen voting rights in local Board of Education elections

Current local law allows certain non-citizens to vote in San Francisco’s Board of Education (School Board) elections.

What to do

Current local law allows certain non-citizens to vote in San Francisco’s Board of Education (School Board) elections. This law does not allow individuals to vote in any other local, state, or federal election. 

Check if you're eligible

To register as a non-citizen voter for the next Board of Education (School Board) election, you must be all of the following:

  1.  A San Francisco resident who intends to remain so until the next Board of Education election;
  2. The parent, legal guardian, or caregiver of a child living in the San Francisco Unified School District (i.e. living in San Francisco);
  3. At least 18 years of age on Election Day (the next such date is November 5, 2024); and
  4. Not disqualified from voting under state law for imprisonment or mental incompetence.

Register

Local law requires all non-citizen voters to register for Board of Education elections using a postage-paid NCV registration form. This form is also available at the Department’s office. Completed non-citizen registration forms must be returned by mail or in person. A new NCV registration form must be completed for each Board of Education election by any non-citizen voter. 

Non-citizen voters cannot use the state voter registration form or register at state offices (e.g., Department of Motor Vehicles). 

Registration of any non-citizen voter will expire after each local Board of Education election. Non-citizen registrants may cancel their voter registration at any time by contacting the Department of Elections or by returning a NCV registration cancellation form

Any information you provide to the Department of Elections, including your name and address, may be obtained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other agencies, organizations, and individuals. In addition, if you apply for naturalization, you will be asked whether you have ever registered or voted in a federal, state, or local election in the United States. You may wish to consult with an immigration attorney, an organization that protects immigrant rights, or other knowledgeable source before providing any personal information to the Department of Elections and before registering to vote in San Francisco Board of Education Elections. You can find a list of nonprofit organizations that specialize in protecting the rights of immigrants on sfelections.org.  See translated versions of this notice.

Log in to the Non-Citizen Voter Information Portal

Non-citizen voters may confirm their registration information, check the status of their ballots, and find their assigned polling place by logging in to the Non-Citizen Voter Information Portal or by contacting the Department.

Ways to vote

Non-citizen voters have the same voting options as other local voters. These options include: voting by mail, voting in person, or voting using the accessible vote-by-mail system.

Find your polling place

Any voter can contact the Department of Elections, use the Voting Site Wait Times Lookup Tool, or check the back cover of their Voter Information Booklet to find their assigned polling place.

Check in at the polls

This process will mirror the one for citizen voters, meaning that non-citizen voters will need to sign the roster of voters to receive a ballot. All voters, including non-citizens, have the right to cast a secret ballot.

More information

More information

Non-citizen ballots and other materials

For every Board of Education election, the Department of Elections will produce a registration form, an official ballot, a Voter Information Booklet, and various outreach materials specific to non-citizen voters. All of these materials are multilingual and multiformat. Additionally, the Department maintains a separate voter roll for non-citizen voters.

Contests on the ballot for non-citizen voters

You can only vote on Board of Education contests.

Children not in a SFUSD School

You and your children must live in San Francisco, but your children do not need to go to SFUSD schools. If your child attends private school, or is too young to attend school, you may vote in Board of Education elections.

Non-citizens residing outside of San Francisco

You and your child must both reside in San Francisco to be eligible to vote in local Board of Education elections. 

Confidentiality of non-citizen registrations and voting histories

Per state law, the Department of Elections must provide some of this information under certain circumstances. (Please see the State page on this topic.)

Special cases

Effect on Naturalization Application

Effect on Naturalization Application

In Part 9 of the latest version of form N-400, “Application for Naturalization”, applicants are asked whether they have registered to vote in any Federal, state, or local election in the United States. Applicants who have only voted in a local election where noncitizens are eligible to vote, such as San Francisco Board of Education elections since 2018, may answer “No” to this question. 

Non-citizens seeking advice about the naturalization process, including questions related to voting, are encouraged to contact an attorney or organization specializing in immigration-related matters before submitting any declaration.

Outreach materials

Outreach materials

History of non-citizen voting in San Francisco

History of non-citizen voting in San Francisco

In July of 2016, the Board of Supervisors voted to place Proposition N on the ballot and in November of 2016, San Francisco voters passed Proposition N with fifty-four percent approval.

In May of 2018, the Board of Supervisors passed Ordinance No. 128-18 requiring the Department of Elections to implement Proposition N in several specific ways. In October of 2021, the Board of Supervisors passed Ordinance No. 206-21, making Proposition N permanent and clarifying that it covered Board of Education recall elections. 

A local Superior Court judge ruled Prop N was unconstitutional in July 2022. However, later that year, a California Court of Appeal ruled that Prop N was in fact permissible under the state constitution and the City Charter. 

On August 8, 2023, a California Court of Appeal upheld San Francisco’s non-citizen voting program. The decision permits non-citizen parents of children residing in San Francisco to continue to vote in San Francisco Board of Education Elections.

Verification letters

Upon a voter's request, the Department can provide a letter a) listing the criteria set forth in Charter §13.111(a)(1) for non-United States citizen voting in local Board of Education elections, and b) verifying that a given person voted in a specific Board of Education election. A voter may request this letter by contacting the Department of Elections.

Get help

Department of Elections

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
City Hall, Room 48
San Francisco, CA 94102

Phone

Fax: 415-554-7344
TTY: 415-554-4386

中文: 415-554-4367
Español: 415-554-4366
Filipino: 415-554-4310

Last updated May 24, 2024