For many Latinos racing to become citizens in time to vote in the 2016 election, it took a lot of planning to ensure they registered before their state’s cutoff date. Across the country, this meant registering weeks before Election Day. But for new citizens living in California, the deadline wasn’t as rigid. While October 24 was the last day to sign up in California, those who became naturalized after that date can still register and vote until the polls close today, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The process is slightly different, however. New citizens must provide proof of citizenship and California residency to a county elections office official. They can’t go to a normal polling place or use an absentee ballot – a measure put in place to prevent voter fraud.
The extension has existed since 2012, though two previous governors tried to stop it from going through. “The new citizens actually take advantage of it and don’t take it for granted,” said Mary Park, a Republican volunteer, to the LA Times. “They actually want to vote and they know more sometimes than our [American-born] citizens.”
Because of this 2012 law, people like Alex De Leon – a 30-year-old Guatemalan immigrant – as well as the more than 400 people naturalized in late October in Sacramento can now cast their votes. De Leon has lived in the United States for almost 20 years, and he became a citizen so he could vote in this election.
“[I’m] becoming a citizen to make my voice count,” he said. “It’s very clear … who is going to benefit the Latino people – the immigrant in this country – so I’m definitely voting for Hillary Clinton.”