Letters from our Readers: Noncitizen voting is not unconstitutional

Ken Garcia’s Sunday column attacked Proposition D as “illegal” and claims that the courts have ruled noncitizen voting in local school elections to be unconstitutional. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly endorsed noncitizen voting and has never found the practice to be unconstitutional.

For the first 150 years of our country’s history, immigrants voted in local, state and federal elections in more than 40 states. Voting rights were tied to whether you were a white, property-owning male, not to citizenship. (And if you were a woman or a person of color, being a citizen certainly did not mean you could vote.)

As to the California Constitution, it grants citizens the right to vote in state and local elections, but nowhere does it preclude noncitizens from voting. And the California Constitution expressly permits localities to determine the manner of electing school board members, as Prop. D would allow San Franciscans to do.

Tara Kini, San Francisco

Healthier food options

Regarding Friday’s Quote of the Day, it’s unfortunate that children are not getting the nutritious food that the Food Stamp program is designed to provide. Perhaps the USDA could open commissaries where food stamp recipients could have access to a variety of healthy foods at lower prices. If only healthy options were carried, and ready-to-serve dishes were offered, there is a better chance that the program would have its desired effect.

Tim Donnelly, San Francisco

Clipper’s Caltrain issues

Caltrain has major Clipper card problems. I commute from 22nd Street S.F. to San Jose, using commuter checks to buy eight-ride tickets. Last week, the Caltrain ticket counters were permanently closed, and Clipper staff informed me I must buy tickets at Walgreens because ticket machines don’t take commuter checks.

At both 22nd Street and the San Jose station, the nearest Walgreens is nearly two miles away. After my four-mile round trip, the station machines said my card was blocked. When I called Clipper again, they said they have no way of informing passengers all cards are blocked until updated credit card information is provided (although my new card contained more than $30 and a valid eight-ride ticket).

No one was available to take my customer care call at 8.30 a.m. on a weekday morning, and the Clipper website remained down all last week. Finally, to complete the morning, I was one of seven cyclists denied boarding because both bike cars were full. So Caltrain forces me to drive instead of riding the train any day I have a morning meeting.

Simon Aspinall, San Francisco

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