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Andy Nguyen
By Andy Nguyen October 18, 2022

California is not registering noncitizens to vote in elections

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  • California does not allow noncitizens to vote in its general or primary elections. Eligible voters must be 18, a U.S. citizen and a California resident. 
  • San Francisco did once have a law allowing noncitizens to vote in local school board elections, but a judge overturned it in 2022, saying it violated the state’s constitution.

As early voting begins in California ahead of November’s midterm elections, a Facebook post claimed the state is registering noncitizen voters. 

The Oct. 6 Facebook post linked to a different post on another social media platform featuring a text block within an image. 

The text denigrates the Democratic Party and singles out California. 

"Now that California is registering non-citizens to vote and has refused to cooperate with the Federal Election Integrity Program, all votes from California should be nullified, and federal representatives from the state be removed from Congress for the benefit of all the states," the post said. 

The text mentioning California is taken verbatim from a 2018 tweet made by Ryan Fournier, the co-founder of Students for Trump.

Fournier’s tweet and this more recent social media post are based on misinformation involving a San Francisco law that took effect in 2018 and allowed noncitizens to vote in school board elections.  

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Anyone who is 18, a U.S. citizen and a California resident can register to vote in the state.

Green card and visa holders, and people who are serving in state or federal prison for a felony conviction or individuals found mentally incompetent, are ineligible to vote.

The California Secretary of State Office did not immediately respond to PolitiFact’s request for comment. 

San Francisco voters approved a law in 2016 allowing noncitizen parents and guardians of children enrolled in the San Francisco Unified School District to vote in board of education elections, regardless of their legal status. 

Despite social media claims, the law did not expand voting for noncitizens to any other election. 

The law was struck down July 29, after San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard B. Ulmer ruled it violated California’s Constitution, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

"Transcendent law of California, the constitution thus reserves the vote to a ‘United States citizen,’ contrary to (the San Francisco law)," Ulmer said in his ruling

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The same year San Francisco’s law took effect, the California Department of Motor Vehicles revealed around 23,000 residents were registered to vote incorrectly, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

The mistake stemmed from an error in the agency’s online rollout of its Motor Voter Program, in which eligible residents are registered to vote when they renew or apply for a driver’s license or identification card unless they actively opt out of the program. 

Around 1,500 people were registered to vote when they didn’t intend to, including an undisclosed number of noncitizens, according to the Times. State officials told the Times that none of the noncitizens registered to vote were in the country illegally. 

Election officials were able to cancel the erroneous registrations in time for the 2018 midterm elections, and absentee ballots sent to people who were mistakenly registered to vote were voided, the Times reported. 

There is no such thing as the "Federal Election Integrity Program." However, the post could be referencing the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, established by former President Donald Trump in May 2017 to investigate claims of voter fraud and improper registrations. 

The commission attempted to obtain voter data from state election officials, but 44 states and the District of Columbia partially or outright refused to hand the information over. 

Many state officials, including in California, cited privacy concerns, as the data the commission sought included birth dates, addresses and the last four digits of a people’s Social Security numbers.

Then-California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said at the time that the commission was a "waste of taxpayer money" and a distraction from real threats to election integrity, like out-of-date voting systems and foreign interference.

"I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally," he said.

The election integrity commission abruptly disbanded in January 2018 after failing to find evidence of fraud.

Our ruling

A Facebook post shared a link to an image claiming California is allowing noncitizens to vote and refusing to cooperate with the "Federal Election Integrity Program."

The claim appears to be based on misinformation involving a 2018 San Francisco law that allowed noncitizens to vote in local school board elections but was struck down as unconstitutional in July. 

Noncitizens were also mistakenly registered to vote through a Department of Motor Vehicles mix-up in 2018, but state officials were able to fix the issue before that year’s midterm elections.

California does not allow noncitizens to vote in elections. Eligible voters must be 18, U.S. citizens and California residents. 

We rate this claim False.  

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California is not registering noncitizens to vote in elections

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