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Bill Would Allow Non-Citizens to Work as California Poll Workers

Aug 9, 2013

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Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A bill that would expand the pool of volunteers for election polling places is on its way to California Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. And, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, it’s generating some philosophical questions.

If you’re not a citizen, should you be allowed to participate in the electoral process? A majority of the California legislature thinks you should. A bill authored by Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta would allow permanent residents of California, who are not citizens and cannot vote, to volunteer as poll workers. Bonta says non-English speaking voters would benefit.

“We have a shortage of multi-lingual poll workers in the State of California. It’s a fact. We will have a greater shortage going forward as our demographics continue to change and shift. And there must be language access for voters at the polls. And that’s what this bill provides," says Bonta.  

Critics say non-Citizens should not be involved in the voting process. And they doubt whether permanent residents would help with language barriers since they are not allowed to actually help people vote.