Legal immigrants can now serve as poll workers in California. In an effort to better serve its growing immigrant population, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law a measure on Tuesday that would allow non-citizen, legal immigrants to work at polling places.
The law will help fill the shortage of multilingual poll workers who can serve as interpreters for the estimated 2.6 million Californian eligible voters who are limited-English speakers. The new law will allow election officials to appoint up to five non-citizens per precinct. Non-citizens in California are still not allowed to vote in local elections, however.
Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta who proposed the law said, “By expanding the pool of persons eligible to serve as poll workers to include lawful permanent residents, AB 817 will help ensure that our state’s voters have the resources necessary to participate fully in our democratic process. Without language assistance, these citizens face challenges in exercising their fundamental right to vote and casting an informed ballot.”
The new law was heavily opposed by Republicans who argued that only U.S. citizens should be allowed to be poll workers.
Brown will likely also sign another measure this week that allows legal immigrants to serve on juries, which once signed, would allow California to become the first state to allow non-citizen, legal immigrants to serve on a jury.
As Bonta puts it, “By allowing lawful permanent residents to participate in the elections process as poll workers, AB 817 will increase civic engagement and encourage progress along the pathway towards citizenship.”