SACRAMENTO (AP) — The state Senate on Monday approved legislation that would allow immigrants who are not U.S. citizens to assist voters casting a ballot.
The measure from Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, would allow for up to five non-citizens to serve at a particular polling site. Those poll workers must be permanent U.S. residents who legally entered the country.
Those residents could provide much-needed help to voters with limited English skills, said Sen. Norma Torres, D-Pomona, who presented Bonta’s bill. There are 2.6 million eligible California voters who are not fully proficient in English, she said.
“These individuals have the absolute right to make fully informed voting decisions on Election Day,” Torres said.
More than three dozen organizations involved in elections and immigrant advocacy have signaled their support for AB817.
The California Association of Clerks and Election Officials wrote in a March letter to lawmakers that the measure would help counties recruit bilingual poll workers and deputy registrars.
The Senate passed AB817 on a party-line vote of 22-10, with Republicans in opposition. It heads back to the Assembly, which must adopt minor changes made by the Senate.
The measure cleared an initial Assembly vote in May. During that floor debate, several Republicans who opposed the bill said serving as a poll worker is a responsibility that should be reserved for citizens.
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