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Senate supports non-citizens working polls in California

July 08, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • Voters huddle in the dryer section to mark their ballots at Super Suds laundromat polling place on Alamitos Avenue in Long Beach in the November 2012 election.
Voters huddle in the dryer section to mark their ballots at Super Suds laundromat… (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)

Legal residents who are not citizens would be able to serve as volunteer poll workers during California elections under legislation approved Monday by the state Senate.

Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) introduced the measure to address a shortage of bilingual poll workers and increase civic engagement by residents who are ineligible to vote because they are not yet citizens.

“As our country moves closer towards comprehensive immigration reform, it is important for states to create opportunities for lawful permanent residents to participate in our democratic process and encourage them to continue on the pathway towards citizenship," Bonta said.

AB 817 was previously approved by the Assembly but goes back to that house for concurence on minor amendments.

Bonta said the measure will help the state address the 2.6 million eligible voters who are not yet fully proficient in English. “Without language assistance, these citizens face challenges in asserting their right to vote and casting an informed ballot,” he said.

The Senate also voted approval of a bill requiring limousines offered for hire in California to be fitted with fire extinguishers.

Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) introduced SB 338 after five women were killed May 4 when a fire engulfed a limousine on the San-Mateo-Hayward Bridge. Most of the victims were nurses heading to a hotel bridal party.

Hill’s measure, which next goes to the Assembly for consideration, would require a fire extinguisher to be kept in the drivers' compartment and one to be kept in the passenger cabin.

“It could have delayed the fire. It could have helped,” Hill said. “It was one problem.” He said he is also considering adding other requirements to the bill including certification of safety when limousines are modified. The measure next goes to the Assembly.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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