SACRAMENTO, CA – Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) today announced the signing of AB 817 by Governor Brown. The new law will assist counties and the nearly 3 million limited English proficient voters in the election process by allowing up to five lawful permanent residents to work at the polls and provide language assistance services. Federal and state law already require counties to provide language assistance at poll sites when the need reaches certain thresholds. As the number of limited-English proficient minority populations continues to grow throughout the state, AB 817 will now help counties meet those requirements.
“I am extremely pleased that Governor Brown has signed my bill into law. He clearly understands the challenges faced by the increasingly diverse voters in our state related to civic engagement and participation,” said Assemblymember Bonta.
The bill is sponsored by the Asian Law Caucus and Los Angeles divisions of Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. “We look forward to working with elections officials to implement it next year,” said Eugene Lee, Voting Rights Project Director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles. “The bill will improve opportunities for voters who face language barriers to receive the assistance they need to fully participate in our democracy.”
Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the NALEO Educational Fund stated “AB 817 will enhance the counties’ ability to meet their obligations, and provide lawful permanent residents a new opportunity to become more civically engaged. We commend the leadership of Governor Brown and Assemblymember Bonta in recognizing the need to make California’s democracy more responsive to all of its citizens.”
Bonta concluded “By expanding the pool of persons eligible to serve as poll workers to include lawful permanent residents, AB 817 will help ensure that our state’s voters have the resources necessary to participate fully in our democratic process. Without language assistance, these citizens face challenges in exercising their fundamental right to vote and casting an informed ballot.”
Assemblymember Rob Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. He is the Chair of the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security Committee and the Select Committee on Gun Violence in the East Bay. He is also a member of the Assembly Health, Transportation, Banking & Finance, and Elections & Redistricting Committees.
CONTACT: Amy Alley, (916) 319-2018