(The Center Square) – Some see a measure at the statehouse as a threat to democracy by allowing non-citizens in Illinois to vote in school board elections. Others see it as giving them a voice in their child’s education.
State Sen. Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, said her Senate Bill 1345 is an extension of a bill that already allows for undocumented residents to vote on local school councils in Chicago. She said this needs to be expanded across the state because these families have children in public schools where they pay taxes.
“This gives people an opportunity to be able to have a voice, especially in their children’s education,” Villanueva told The Center Square.
The bill, if passed into law, would task the Illinois State Board of Education to create a voter registration affidavit as a way for “a noncitizen of the United States” to register to vote in school board elections.
Villanueva’s bill states “the elections conducted under the provisions are considered non-State elections and are not subject to the citizenship requirement in the Illinois Constitution.”
State Sen. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, said Villanueva’s bill goes too far.
“Obviously one of our most sacred rights as an American is to determine who our elected officials are,” Bryant told The Center Square. “That’s part of being an American citizen.”
Bryant is open to discussing pathways for undocumented residents to become naturalized citizens, but won’t support letting non-citizens vote in any election.
“People are worried about things like Chinese balloons and so forth, right, so why wouldn’t it be possible for someone to infiltrate our electoral system if they’re not a citizen,” Bryant said. “No, that is a right that is afforded to American citizens.”
Villanueva said those resources are there but her bill gives non-citizen parents more of a stake in their children’s schools.
“What we are trying to do is to give people an opportunity to have their voices heard, especially when it comes to their children’s education, but in regards to helping people become citizens, we are also doing that too in the state of Illinois,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva’s bill has been assigned to the Senate Executive Committee.