Hector Amezcua / hamezcua@sacbee.com

Assemblyman Luis Alejo backs a bill allowing legal immigrants to be poll workers. The Assembly has sent the measure to Gov. Jerry Brown.

The Buzz: Bill to let legal residents be poll workers clears California Legislature

Published: Friday, Aug. 9, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3A

A bill that would let legal immigrants who aren't citizens serve as California poll workers is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk, but not before sparking partisan debate.

The Assembly agreed Thursday to technical amendments the Senate made to Assembly Bill 817, which would allow an election official to appoint up to five noncitizens as poll workers at each precinct.

They would have to be lawful permanent residents who, except for U.S. citizenship, meet all other requirements for voter eligibility.

"There are nearly 3 million citizens who are fully eligible to vote and not English proficient," said Democrat Rob Bonta of Alameda, who argued his bill would increase language access at the polls.

Republican Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen of Modesto didn't buy into that logic: "Poll workers cannot go into a voting booth with a voter, cannot read the ballot to the voter, cannot help them understand what they are voting on."

Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, countered that legal residents can serve in the military.

"It's offensive to suggest that those people could go and put their lives on the line for their country ... but when they come back home, they are unfit to serve as a poll worker," he said.

– Melody Gutierrez

SENATE WATCH

With the Senate returning from its recess Monday, the victor of the hard-fought race for the seat last held by Democrat Michael Rubio gets formally elevated to office this weekend. Republican Andy Vidak will be sworn in to represent the 16th Senate District at 10 a.m. Saturday in Hanford, with Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, presiding.

– Jeremy B. White

WORTH REPEATING

"At first she wanted me to be a nun, but I had different plans."

NANCY PELOSI, San Francisco Democrat and House minority leader, tweeting a photo Thursday of her mother helping a young schoolgirl Pelosi with her homework

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