Maine city school board moves to support letting noncitizens vote

Maine city school board moves to support letting noncitizens vote
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The Board of Education in Portland, Maine, endorsed a resolution this week in support of a referendum that would allow noncitizens in the country legally to vote in local elections.

Maine Public Radio reported Wednesday that the school board voted 4-3 to urge the Portland City Council to put the issue up for a vote in November. If approved, Portland would be the first city in the state to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections. 

More than a dozen parents and students from the immigrant community attended the meeting and spoke in favor of the proposal, according to local media.

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Officials who voted against the referendum questioned whether the board of education was within its powers to determine such an issue, Maine Public Radio reported.

The proposal originated with Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling and city councilman Pious Ali.

The city council still needs to endorse the referendum before it can be put on the ballot for voters to decide.

Portland would not be the first city to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections.

The San Francisco Department of Elections last month began issuing voter registration forms to noncitizens with children in the city school district, according to multiple local media reports. That policy is the result of a 2016 vote in which city residents passed a proposition to allow noncitizen voting.

Advocates of the practice have celebrated efforts to give voting rights to legal noncitizens. However, some have reportedly expressed concerns that the voter registration information may be shared with the federal government, which would in-turn put noncitizens at risk amid a crackdown on illegal immigration.