Voting: A healthy and inclusive democracy entails addressing structural barriers to expand opportunities so that all Californians can participate in civic life.

Each indicator page features a series of charts, insights and analysis, case studies, and related indicators.

Insights and Analyses

  • Across California, in 2022, nearly 1.2 million Latino immigrants, over 290,150 Filipino immigrants, nearly 261,650 Chinese immigrants, about 185,650 Vietnamese immigrants, over 165,220 Indian immigrants, and nearly 97,950 Korean immigrants were registered to vote.
  • Black, Filipino, Indian, Latino, Other Southeast Asian, Pacific Islander, Portuguese, and Vietnamese immigrants had higher voter turnout rates in the 2020 election, as compared to their U.S.-born counterparts.
  • Among most racial groups, women had slightly higher voter turnout rates than males in the 2020 election. For example, among registered Arab voters, Arab females had a 77% voter turnout rate as compared to Arab males with a 73% voter turnout rate. Among Black registered voters, Black females had a 74% voter turnout rate, as compared to 70% for Black males.
  • Italian voters, regardless of nativity, and U.S.-born Japanese voters were among the groups with the highest voter turnout rate. Moreover, Italians’ immigrant population is substantially smaller and native-born Italians and Japanese communities are long settled in the state, with very few new immigrants, and makes the case for increased structural access to voting for immigrants and people of color.
  • In light of the pandemic, the halt in interviews and oath ceremonies for immigrants waiting to naturalize impacted their right to vote in the 2020 election. In April 2020, Boundless estimated that every day that USCIS offices remained closed, about 2,100 immigrants waiting to naturalize would run out of time to vote in the 2020 presidential election. Although operations started up earlier than expected, estimates as of August 2020 confirmed that nearly 300,000 immigrants would be unable to complete the naturalization process in time to vote due to these delays and closures.

Since 2011, Dream Summer has connected immigrant youth and allies to 800 fellowship opportunities across the country, training the next generation of social justice leaders to defend immigrant and underrepresented communities.

Founded by the Dream Resource Center (DRC), a project of the UCLA Labor Center, Dream Summer places fellows with non-profit and labor organizations every year throughout the summer to develop their leadership on social justice efforts. While focusing on immigrant rights issues, fellows also lead on the distinct intersectional issues facing LGBTQ+, Asian and Pacific Islander, and Black communities; the incarceration and criminalization of communities of color; COVID-19 efforts; access to healthcare; and a just economy for all. Through this fellowship, youth receive a $5,000 stipend, leadership and professional training, and membership into the DRC Alumni Network. Additionally, immigrant youth build community in a safe and restorative space. To date, Dream Summer has partnered with more than 265 social justice organizations throughout California, including Bakersfield, Long Beach, Oakland, Santa Ana, San Bernardino, and San Diego, as well as other states. In addition, Dream Summer alumni are now leading the fellowship as coordinators, bringing forth their experiences to strengthen the program. To learn more about the Dream Summer fellowship, visit their site here. Read an article on the new DRC Director here and the new staff members here.

Photo credit: Dream Resource Center

The Immigrant Parent Voting Ordinance in San Francisco City was an exemplary model for allowing undocumented parents and guardians to engage civically by voting in local school board elections.

Proposition N, passed in 2016, once set San Francisco apart as the only city in the state that allowed non-citizens to vote in local school board elections. In 2021, the Board of Supervisors approved the Immigrant Parent Voting Ordinance to make this right permanent and expanded it to allow non-citizens to also vote in school board recall elections. Although non-citizen voting (NCV) is not a new concept, few cities across the nation have implemented NCV to the extent that San Francisco had, including allowing all residents regardless of legal status with children under the age of 19, to participate. In California, this concept is gaining traction in San Jose, as the city considers a proposal to extend voting rights. However, conservative groups challenged the San Francisco Board of Supervisors ordinance to expand voting rights and in July 2022, a judge struck down the ordinance. In response, speaking to the importance of the incorporation of immigrant voices in the community and protection of voting rights, immigrant rights coordinator for Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), Olivia Zheng stated, “’By extending the right to vote to noncitizens, San Francisco has led the way in expanding access to democracy and promoting immigrant inclusion. In the face of attacks on voting rights across the country, it is crucial to continue defending the right for immigrants to fully participate in and shape their communities.’” Led by CAA, the Immigrant Parent Voting Collaborative (IPVC), a multi-racial coalition, provided trainings, workshops, and brochures to non-citizen voters on their rights and possible risks associated with voting. Leading up to the 2018 elections, IPVC had worked with the San Francisco Department of Elections to safeguard the privacy of undocumented voters by including a notice on the ballot around voting risks, creating separate ballots and rosters tailored to non-citizen voters, and training poll workers. Trained poll workers referred to non-citizen voters as EDU voters, to distinguish their vote for the school board elections. To learn more about the organizations involved in expanding civic participation in SF, read here. To learn more about the history of non-citizen voting, read here. Read a press release by CAA and other organizations in response to the decision to overturn the ordinance here and statements by immigrant parents in support of the ordinance here

Photo credit: Chinese for Affirmative Action

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