California Voting For All Act

SHARE THIS

Advancing Justice – California is sponsoring the California Voting for All Act, state legislation that would make California a nationwide leader on ensuring language access in the voting process for limited-English immigrant voters. The bill is carried by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, head of the legislature’s API Caucus. As the state with the most immigrant voters and the most limited-English voters in the nation, we believe California must be on the cutting edge of making translated ballots and bilingual poll workers available. The California Voting for All Act is a key part of building an accessible, inclusive, and diverse democracy in our state.

Please see our press release on the bill for additional information:

Advancing Justice – California Lauds Introduction of
“California Voting for All Act” to Improve Language Access in California Elections

Legislation, authored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, will make California a nationwide leader on ensuring access to voting for immigrant communities.

Sacramento — While anti-immigrant rhetoric dominates the national conversation, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – California, composed of two sister organizations Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, has partnered with California Assemblymember Rob Bonta to introduce state legislation to make  California’s elections dramatically more accessible to limited-English proficient immigrant voters. Assemblymember Bonta is the Chair of the state legislature’s Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.

The “California Voting for All Act” (AB 918 – Bonta) will substantially strengthen the language assistance available to voters under state law and make California a nationwide leader in ensuring an accessible democracy. The bill will overhaul the use of translated “facsimile” ballots, making them more visible and more useful to limited-English voters. The bill will also hold counties accountable for the provision of bilingual poll workers for the first time and give limited-English voters more translated information about the services available to them.

“For California’s democracy to be truly representative, and to grow as the size and diversity of our state grow, California has an obligation to provide the most effective language assistance in elections possible,” said Jonathan Stein, staff attorney and voting rights program manager at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus.

“No other state does anything like this,” said Deanna Kitamura, staff attorney and voting rights program director as Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. “This bill will make California a nationwide leader in opening up democracy to immigrant communities.”

“Voting is a fundamental privilege and duty,” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), author of AB 918.  “When we identify problems with voter access, it’s our obligation to act so that every eligible voter can fully participate in their democracy.  As the Chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, I’m committed to seeing that all voices are heard.”

Background: Currently, California’s two fastest-growing population groups – Asian Americans and Latinos – are also least likely to vote. Just 18% of eligible Asian Americans and 17% of eligible Latinos turned out to vote in the 2014 general election, compared to 40% of eligible non-Asian Americans and Latinos. Voters’ language needs contribute to these stark turnout disparities. Of California’s Asian American immigrants, 91% speak a language other than English at home. Of California Latinos, 75% speak Spanish at home. For these communities, effective language assistance in voting may mean the difference between being able to vote and being disenfranchised.

The vast majority of Californians who need language assistance when voting receive it under Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act, which effectively mandates fully bilingual elections when populations that speak non-English languages reach certain thresholds in a county. But California currently fails the 534,000 limited-English residents, including 327,000 Asian Americans and 207,000 Latinos, who live in precincts not covered by Section 203 and who instead receive language access protections under the terms of state law.

State law only requires that a “facsimile” ballot, a replica of an English ballot translated into a particular language, be posted on the wall of a polling place when the limited-English proficient speakers of that language comprise 3% of the precinct. Data from a massive 2016 poll monitoring effort organized by Advancing Justice – California shows that these facsimile ballots are often misplaced or not posted by poll workers. When facsimile ballots are made available, they are often overlooked by voters because elections offices do no public education about them, no signage in the polling place highlights them, and poll workers are not trained on using them. When they are available and are found by voters, they provide an inadequate form of assistance: voters have to vote while referring to a wall posting, denying them a private ballot. Furthermore, facsimile ballots are not available in any form to vote-by-mail voters, an increasing share of the California electorate.

State law also requires, when the same 3% threshold is met in a precinct, that elections offices make “reasonable efforts” to recruit bilingual poll workers to staff the polling places associated with those precincts. “Reasonable efforts” is not defined, leading to dramatically different implementation across counties. The state law does not require that bilingual poll workers be made visible to voters through nametags or polling place signage that identify their language skills.

The California Voting for All Act addresses all of these problems. It would overhaul the use of facsimile ballots in polling places, make facsimile ballots available to vote by mail voters for the first time, make bilingual poll workers significantly more visible to voters who need them, require elections offices to report publicly what success they do or do not have in recruiting bilingual poll workers, and increase the amount of translated voter education elections offices provide before Election Day.

To better understand the need for the California Voting for All Act, please read this memo on how state law’s current language access provisions are badly insufficient to provide equal access to voting for limited-English voters.

ALERT: ICE is planning raids on the Cambodian community in the next few weeks. If you are Cambodian, have a deportation order, and were asked to check-in with ICE soon, contact 415-952-0413 to speak to a lawyer.

For resources and information regarding legal services, visit SEAraids.org
... See Less

ALERT: ICE is planning raids on the Cambodian community in the next few weeks. If you are Cambodian, have a deportation order, and were asked to check-in with ICE soon, contact 415-952-0413 to speak to a lawyer.

For resources and information regarding legal services, visit SEAraids.org

View previous comments

My understanding is the US plans to deport 200 cambodians per year until everybody with an order of removal is deported. I don't mean to cause fear but I strongly encourage anybody with a removal order to fight their cases now because once you are detained it becomes much more difficult to have access to attorneys and other resources. I fear this cycle will continue over the next few years.

7 hours ago   ·  10

5 Replies

Avatar

None of us are free unless all of us are free from fear! This is unacceptable!

8 hours ago   ·  8
Avatar

I love you all, my Southeast Asian brothers and sisters! You’re not alone in this fight!!

3 hours ago   ·  1
Avatar

Started with Mexicans, Muslims, now Cambodians... who is next?

7 hours ago   ·  3

2 Replies

Avatar

Immigration lawyer ain’t going to do anything but take your money

4 hours ago   ·  2
Avatar

Again come on! This is no way to live😠

8 hours ago   ·  1
Avatar

Thavanh Vongkeo

7 hours ago
Avatar

Lean Pil share with your philly friends

5 hours ago
Avatar

David Seng

6 hours ago
Avatar

What about Stockton???? My brother in law check in march!!!! What should he do???

5 hours ago

2 Replies

Avatar

I am an immigration attorney and I was at immigration court today. I represented four individuals, all from Vietnam, all legal permanent residents with old crimes and recent entries to the U.S. I echo the suggestions above. If you have a removal/deportation order, if you have a history of crimes, if you plan on traveling outside of the U.S., speak with an immigration attorney.

2 hours ago
Avatar

Devon Lernsdale

2 hours ago

1 Reply

Avatar

This is crazy... the group just left and they starting again already😡

7 hours ago
Avatar

Do we have information on Massachusetts?

8 hours ago

2 Replies

Avatar

Pechta Sok

5 hours ago
Avatar

Molly Mall

43 minutes ago
Avatar

The Cambodian and Viet communities are again targeted by US militarism-police abuse: from being attacked and displaced in the war in Indochina to becoming refugees to living in US ghetto-conditions to jail now to deportation. This is generational torture by imperialism. Like the Central American exodus the US exports war and guns, imports labor via refugees, over polices them and deports people, and so the cycle continues. I am so sad and sick. I take actions at rallies and make donations to express my rage and solidarity but where do I put the sadness.

7 hours ago   ·  7

2 Replies

Avatar

Don’t Check it,go somewhere n live off the land, if your gon get deported anyway

4 hours ago
Avatar

Comment on Facebook

Advancing Justice Affiliates: