Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bonta's Non-Citizen Poll Worker Bill Heads To The Governor's Desk

Asm Rob Bonta
ASSEMBLY | Non-citizens in California may soon be able to help voters at the polls. A bill by Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta passed the Assembly Thursday, 46-22, that would allow up to five permanent residents to work at Election Day polling location and possibly aid voters lacking proficiency in English. The bill awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature.

Despite its easy passage following approval of slight amendments in the State Senate, Republicans led by Assemblymember Tim Donnelly lodged a spirited debate. “In order to become a citizen, you have to actually exhibit your proficiency in English,” said Donnelly, a potential gubernatorial candidate next year. “We’re essentially saying we’re going to change everything.” Donnelly added Bonta’s bill will undermine voter confidence in the election process.

However, Donnelly’s reference to military personnel veered the discussion to an entirely different place, unrelated to the bill on the floor. Watsonville Assemblymember Luis Alejo demanded an apology, while another Republican assembly member attempted to add an amendment to the bill recognizing servicemen.

“I think people are observing and recognizing and calling out a paradox those lawful permanent residents are allowed to serve in the military, but not allowed to serve as poll workers,” Bonta said on the Assembly floor.

The notion non-citizens would aid voters lacking a strong grasp of English was challenged by Modesto Assemblymember Kristin Olsen. Under the law, poll workers cannot enter the voting booth, read election materials; only hand them ballots. “None of this requires nuances of the English language,” she said.

Over 3 million voters in the state are not English-proficient, said Bonta, and a shortage of multi-lingual poll workers will likely get larger with further changes in demographics. According to the bill, polling inspectors must be citizens. Idaho and Washington state already allow permanent residents to work polling places.


I have worked as a poll worker in Alameda County since the 1990s. The AC Registrar of Voters has done an excellent job of recruiting multi-lingual poll workers. Ballots and election materials are available at the polls in a variety of languages. Voters are allowed to bring family members or friends with them into the voting booth if they need help. I have also noticed that many voters who's first language is not English come prepared with their pre-marked sample ballots. They know how they'll be voting in advance.

I see no reason why this bill is necessary.

Yet another measure to relegate citizenship into a meaningless piece of paper.

Right up there with Assemblyman Wieckowski's measure to allow non-citizens to serve on juries, possibly sending you to jail.
AB 1401 would allow a 70 year old man, only in the country 30 days from Iran, to sit on a jury judging you for a crime.

OH yes, Bonta voted for that bill also.

Bonta, a man who apparently has little respect for the value of our citizenship.
To him, as long as you have a pulse, he cares not whether you've been in the country for 30 days or 60 years.

What next, allow anyone, citizen or not, to run for Congress? But for the United States Constitution, Bonta would probably support it.

Most of us in Bonta's district absolutely support his bill.

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