Santa Ana City Council Members Jonathan Hernandez and Benjamin Vazquez are demanding that undocumented residents be allowed to vote in mayoral and city council elections. They will ask their colleagues at tonight’s City Council meeting to vote to craft a ballot measure that would be put to the the voters on the November 2024 ballot. This would allow the current voters in the city to decide if the undocumented will be allowed to vote in our local municipal elections.
Opponents of allowing noncitizens to vote argue that people should accept the duties of citizenship before being allowed to vote, that prohibiting noncitizens from voting is not discriminatory, that allowing noncitizens to vote would discourage them from seeking citizenship, and that allowing them to vote would not benefit society as a whole, according to Ballotpedia.
A law that would have allowed noncitizens to vote in local elections in New York City was struck down in 2022 by a State Supreme Court justice on Staten Island who said it violated the State Constitution, according to the New York Times.
Hernandez and Vazquez, both known for wanting to defund the police, had this to say about allowing the undocumented to vote in our local elections, per a memo published in the City Council agenda:
- Currently, seventeen jurisdictions allow noncitizen residents to legally vote in local elections, including San Francisco and Oakland.
- Noncitizen residents make up about 24 percent of Santa Ana’s population. About 30 percent of voting- age residents in Santa Ana are noncitizens.
- Santa Ana is home to the largest share of noncitizen residents of all Orange County cities, and nearly 20 percent of the county’s noncitizen resident population resides in Santa Ana.
- In March 2021, the City Council then amended the Municipal Code to allow qualified residents, including noncitizens, to serve on Santa Ana’s boards, commissions, and committees.
- One resolution would involve a ballot measure to amend the Charter to expand voting, while the other resolution would involve a ballot measure to allow the City Council and Mayor to amend the Charter to expand voting.
Most Santa Ana voters typically do not bother to vote in our local elections. The turnout figures are quite low. As such if the ballot measure proposed by Hernandez and Vazquez make it to an actual ballot a small percentage of our overall voters will decide if the undocumented should be able to vote in Santa Ana’s local elections.