San José has moved one step closer to giving noncitizens a voice in local elections. The city council voted Tuesday night to direct city officials to study the potential impacts of changing the city charter to allow noncitizens the right to vote in municipal elections.
Once staff has completed the review, council members will decide whether to put the question to voters with a ballot measure for either this year's June primary or November general election.
Tuesday's decision invigorated organizers who have been working for years to enfranchise immigrants in San José, regardless of their citizenship status.
"This is a place where we live, where we grew up, where our children grew up," said Esther Meléndez, a 30-year San José resident. She was one of about 200 people who called into the meeting in support of expanding voting rights.
"It is frustrating to not be able to vote for something that is important," said Meléndez, who is a legal permanent resident in the process of obtaining citizenship.