(The Center Square) – Senate Democrats are making a push to give undocumented immigrants the opportunity to vote in school board elections.
The proposal could require the State Board of Education to create an affidavit helping non-citizens register for school board elections. Current bill language requires potential voters to verify they are a parent, legal guardian or caregiver of a student. They must also live within the boundaries of a school district and intent to stay there until the next school board election.
The bill’s sponsor, Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, said families should have the opportunity to play a bigger role in shaping their child’s future.
“For too long, these families have been systematically excluded from participating in our democracy even at the most basic level,” Villanueva said.
Thomas Bride, spokesman for the Illinois Association of County Clerks and Recorders said the change would create chaos.
“The association has some real concerns about introducing the non-citizen voting into the school board elections primarily from a process point,” Bride said. “The elections are complicated in Illinois.”
Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman has been joined by a bipartisan group of 20 county clerks in opposition to the measure.
“If this law should pass, even if Tazewell County would have no non-citizen voters, my office would be required to prepare for the chance that non-citizens would request a ballot each election,” Ackerman said in a statement. “As such, we have estimated the cost of the minimum paper ballots at each polling location, preparation for over 150 different ballot styles with Tazewell County, equipment preparation and other administrative tasks to be $15,000 to $30,000 each election.”
Ackerman said he is also concerned about a violation of the current Voter Registration Fraud Prevention procedures.
“We currently require voters to provide two forms of identification, one of which has the current address they are residing and one a photo identification so we can verify the individual is voting in the appropriate election district,” said Ackerman. “This new proposal would remove that physical proof and require just a statement on an affidavit that they reside with the district they wish to vote in.”
The Senate Human Services Committee expects to host several hearings on the proposal before a vote.
Sponsors said they are willing to work with stakeholders to address concerns and make a stronger bill.