AB 817 would allow non-citizens to work at polls

AB 817 would allow non-citizens to work at polls

July 15, 2013

By Katy Grimes


Poll watchers in America are currently people who are also legally registered to vote. But a new bill would change that in California.

If Assembly Bill 817 is passed, non-citizens, also known as legal resident aliens, who are not eligible to vote in American elections, and who may have limited English language skills, would be allowed to work as poll workers at California’s polling stations.

By Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, the bill passed the state Senate on July 8 on a 22-10 party line vote. It currently is being considered in the Assembly.

There is a problem with this bill. Anyone legally registered to vote must be a citizen or a naturalized citizen. In order to become a naturalized citizen, immigrants are required to pass a reading and writing English test.

But not all members of the Legislature agree with Bonta’s AB 817. Some who are opposed to this bill feel it is part of a deliberate process to blur the lines between legal and illegal in California.

Unknown-1Why is this bill needed?

“Would you have someone who had never driven a car teach you how to drive?” Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda, asked me.  Logue is on the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee, and voted against this bill. “It’s always been the law of the land that whoever is overseeing poll watchers are people who are also registered to vote, who have a stake in the system, who have basically pledged their allegiance to the Constitution of the United States.”

Bonta claims there is a shortage of bilingual poll workers as well as a need to increase civic engagement by residents who are not eligible to vote because they are not yet citizens.

Other lawmakers agree, including Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who recently said the bill is important for those who legally want to become Americans. “People who have legal status, and are on their way to becoming citizens, are a full part of our democracy,” Steinberg said, according to a KFBK report.

But Logue questioned the need for additional bilingual workers, and noted that when a person passes the immigration test, they’ve already passed a proficiency test in the English language.

AB 817 would allow poll workers who may not actually be proficient enough in English to help voters, Logue said. “We are the only state in the country doing this,” he added.

Creating a need

AB 817 would allow 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. But language skills are not a requirement.

However, according to Linda Chavez, former Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and current Chair of the Center for Equal Opportunity, there are exceedingly few persons who are actually eligible to vote who cannot understand English, which is why so many are asking what the need for this bill is.

English skills

Democratic Sen. Norma Torres of Pomona says the workers could provide much-needed help to voters who have limited English skills. She says 2.6 million eligible California voters are not fully proficient in English. But why would naturalized citizens who already passed a written and verbal English test need any voting assistance from non-English-speaking non-citizens?

AB 817 repeals the existing requirement that a person must be a registered voter in order to serve as a precinct board member. As such, the bill also effectively repeals a long-standing principle that poll workers should be similarly situated to the voters whom they serve — citizens registered to vote in the same county.

According to Bonta, more than 2.6 million eligible voters in California are not yet fully proficient in English, and without language assistance, these citizens face challenges in asserting their right to vote and casting an informed ballot. “As the diversity of the state increases, new tools are needed to ensure that language assistance is available 
at the polling place and in the voter registration process,” Bonta said on his Website. “AB 817 addresses this need by expanding the pool of available bilingual speakers to serve
as poll workers and other election volunteers. AB 817 seeks to replicate the successful high school student poll worker program which a number of counties have used to bolster their poll worker recruitment. AB 817 does not impose any mandates on counties.”

AB 817 will strengthen our democracy by promoting greater availability of bilingual assistance.”

Logue’s response is, “This is about the credibility and integrity of our voting systems.”


Write a comment
  1. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 15 July, 2013, 10:52

    where do these people come up with these ideas?

    Reply this comment
  2. us citizen
    us citizen 15 July, 2013, 11:00

    If you cant speak English proficiently, then you shouldnt be voting in the first place because you DONT understand whats on the ballot.

    Reply this comment
  3. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 15 July, 2013, 11:33

    In response to my initial question…….I already figured it out. What this REALLY is about is how many poll-workers speak Tagalog. Bank on it.

    Wiki’s embarrassingly short entry on this back-of-the-row back-bencher nevertheless gives vital clues:

    —“Bonta’s mother, Cynthia Bonta, had helped organize Filipino and Mexican American farmworkers for the United Farm Workers.” (learned “activism” from the crib)

    —“In 2013, Bonta introduced legislation that would require California public schools to teach students the contributions of Filipino Americans in the farm labor movement.” (i.e., Bonta thought Mexicans were hogging all the props….this “vital piece of legislation” hopes to rectify that.)

    —“Bonta is the first Filipino American elected to the California State Legislature.” (Based on his “signature legislation” he no doubt fancies himself as the “Filipinos’ representative”; the 18th District is a mere formality.)

    Went to Yale and Yale Law. Yale diversity czars gleefully check “Filipino-American” box.

    It’s all so predictable. Smart kid. No doubt an “activist” of one sort or another since childhood……wonder what his high school classmates say about him? (“Rob was a nice enough guy, but he would go on and on and on about all this political stuff, and all we wanted to do was some bong hits. We were always telling him to just chill”).

    Yale degrees burnish activism cred. Life’s goal is I am sure something akin to: “To help my community”. And I can guarantee you that he views any and all legislation not by first asking “Is it right for California?” or “How will this affect the 18th District?” but through the prism of “how will this effect Filipino-Americans?” He won’t ADMIT to it, of course. But it’s all sadly true, and you know it.

    Reply this comment
  4. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 15 July, 2013, 11:57

    ”People who have legal status, and are on their way to becoming citizens, are a full part of our democracy,” Steinberg said,

    More complete gibberish from Gauleiter Herr Steinberg. There is a world of difference between having legal resident status and being a “full part of our democracy”. Only mentally fit, adult citizens without felony records are full members of our national polity and Steinberg knows this perfectly well. What he and his loathsome ilk want to do is devalue citizenship to increase the political influence of non citizen aliens.

    Why not just give voting rights to all resident aliens? Wouldn’t this increase participation in the electoral process? For that matter why not prove the reductio ad absurdum and grant voting rights to residents of Mexico who claim to have a stake in our political system? The more voters the better, right? See where this is going now?

    “According to Bonta, more than 2.6 million eligible voters in California are not yet fully proficient in English”

    What Bonta forgot to add is that the Progressive Fascist Elites who run this state want it that way. They want to keep the various ethnic/racial enclaves separate and isolated from the mainstream of American culture so they can exploit the resulting alienation and resentment politically.

    Reply this comment
  5. Sean Morham SIlver
    Sean Morham SIlver 15 July, 2013, 12:50

    Why don t we let anyone vote as many times as they want? Think ca ballots that can be done with your nba all star ballot. Place voting machines at casinos, check cashing stores, liquor stores. The system is corrupt and rigged. Why pretend?

    Reply this comment
  6. Steele, Ted, When only the very best will do!
    Steele, Ted, When only the very best will do! 15 July, 2013, 16:00

    …seems like a good idea to get some diversity with these poll watchers!

    Reply this comment
  7. BobA
    BobA 15 July, 2013, 19:07

    I have a better idea. If you are an American citizen and were born in California (pardon the redundancy), are a resident of California, pay taxes and have a valid California driver’s license, you get to vote once whereas all others not meeting this criteria get to vote as many times as they want without have to show ID.

    After all, according to liberal logic, non-citizens have a right to vote themselves other peoples money.

    Reply this comment
  8. Bob Smith
    Bob Smith 15 July, 2013, 21:06

    I think the real purpose of this is to get more noncitizens casting ballots.

    Reply this comment
  9. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 15 July, 2013, 22:32

    Acorn watchers…..plain and simple!

    Reply this comment
  10. UnTed
    UnTed 16 July, 2013, 09:57

    So wrong on so many levels that I can’t begin to explain my exasperation with these elected officials! Our right to vote is the only way we can control our government and as such has to be totally above corruption! These traintorous treasonous Dedmocrarts are hell-bent on destroying our Democracy and turning our state into Mexico North … You take away our vote or delute it so much that its worthless (almost there now) then the only recourse left for honest Americans is revolt … Lets not let it get to that point!

    Reply this comment
  11. a frequent reader
    a frequent reader 16 July, 2013, 10:19

    a revolt at the ballot box isn’t working…unfortunately

    Reply this comment
  12. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 16 July, 2013, 12:36

    Do you really think McRubio will not build a physical bridge to Cuba?

    Doomers….when moderate business slave master Republicans are finished you will need an interpretor at the voting hall, in court, the mall; school, and at your favorite high end steakhouse!


    Reply this comment
  13. Dave
    Dave 2 February, 2014, 19:38

    When will we wake up to the corruption from both sides. Right now the democrats are taxing us to death, now they want to let non citizens work a polling place? WTF are we thinking when we vote for these liars and cheats? Both sides seem to feel the need to see how far they can go before we stand together and take back what is ours. Every politician is rich, seems to be the norm. They do nothing for the citizens who work, but go out of their way to make it easy for those who don’t or don’t want to. Remember this quote? “they money from the new tax will go to the children and schools”. Once it passed, “the money will go into the general fund to be spent as i see fit”. Gov. Jerry Brown. For every person who reads this remember, There is no worse of two evils, evil is evil no matter how you look at it. Sen. Wright is a felon, but I bet they find some liberal judge who will overturn the verdict. They are trying hard to get citizens not to vote, if that happens, they win. Vote out all incumbents, vote against every name you recognize, stop the theft of Northern CA’s water, vote out any person who goes against the vote of the people. Term limits are required to stop this violent crime spree. Pelosi, Frankenfiendstien, Boxer, Brown, Steinberg, all need to go away. The movie industry, stop supporting it, they bribe our elected officials and make it impossible for someone to succeed in that industry if they don’t come right out and say they support gay marriage. There goes our freedom of choice. we will force you to accept everything we tell you to accept. Kill the christian beliefs while supporting a religion that hates Americans. You can pray in school as long as you are not a christian. Remove In God We Trust from our dollars, dictatorship is not freedom. Wake up and VOTE out these criminals.

    Reply this comment
  14. Dave
    Dave 2 February, 2014, 19:46

    And to top it off, Sen. Wright has not even made the national headlines but they sure are trying hard to take out Hilary Clinton’s opposition, Gov. Christie. If he did it he should resign, but where are the headlines for Steinberg and Wright? Would your company let you keep a job if you were found guilty of 8 felonies? Would you still be employed even in a lower position than Wright? I think not. Come on people, WAKE UP

    Reply this comment

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