Gov. Brown signs bill allowing noncitizens as poll workers

By Patrick McGreevy | August 27, 2013

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SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed into law a measure allowing noncitizens who are permanent legal residents of the United States to serve as poll workers in California elections.

Brown “clearly understands the challenges faced by the increasingly diverse voters in our state related to civic engagement and participation,” said Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), the bill’s author.

Bonta said his measure will provide more multilingual poll workers for a state where nearly 3 million people who are eligible to vote are not fully fluent in English.

Republican lawmakers had opposed the measure, arguing it could undermine the integrity of the election process. They also said there is no need for the law because there is no shortage of citizens to work the polls.

Bonta noted that poll inspectors, who supervise election activities and guarantee the integrity of the process, would still have to be U.S. citizens.

Supporters said the measure will help legal residents become more active in American society.

“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,” Bonta said.