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To Vote or Not to Vote

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In a vote that could have future ramifications in Los Angeles, San Franciscans decide today whether or not non-citizens will be allowed to vote in school board elections. The measure is intended to enfranchise immigrant parents by allowing them to be more involved in school-related decisions that affect their children. Opponents say that this is the first step toward allowing non-citizens the right to vote, a privilege that is historically only open to US citizens. If the vote passes, it is possible that the measure could become an issue in other parts of the state.

"The proposal, the first in the state but not the nation, would permit any adult with a child in public school — parent, guardian or caretaker — to vote regardless of citizenship status. Backers of the measure acknowledged that it probably would face legal challenges since state law limits voting to citizens. But they said a local exemption was allowable because San Francisco is a charter city that can set its own laws."

The vote is stirring some mudslinging and wild leaps of logic on both sides of the issue, ranging from heavily xenophobic to historical to practical. Senator Feinstein has declared it unconstitutional, as California law requires that a voter be a citizen; however, the law does not necessary apply to San Francisco, which is a charter city. One of LAist's favorite arguments is the point that this measure would make it legal for Osama bin Laden to vote. LAist isn't really sure, but terrorists usually don't try to take the legal route before they turn violent.

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