A MAJORITY OF CALIFORNIA VOTERS are concerned that elected leaders reflect the diversity of the state’s population, according to a new poll by the University of California, Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies.  

The online poll of 6,164 registered voters, conducted July 20 to July 25, found that 55 percent of voters said it was “very important” for local elected officials to represent the diversity of their community, while 25 percent said it was “somewhat important.”

Almost half of voters (47 percent) said it was a “major concern” that the state’s elected leaders don’t reflect California’s diversity. Another 28 percent said it was a “minor concern.” 

Voters of color, especially Black voters, and women were likelier than others to express significant concerns, the IGS poll found. 

“A representative democracy can only be achieved when elected officials reflect the values of the communities they represent,” Veronica Carrizales, vice president of policy and external affairs for California Calls, a statewide alliance of community-based organizations providing voter registration services to communities of color and low-income communities, said in a statement. 

“A representative democracy can only be achieved when elected officials reflect the values of the communities they represent.”

Veronica Gonzales, Califonia Calls

The poll also found that Californians support allowing non-citizen residents to vote in local school board elections, which is already in place in some places, such as San Francisco and Oakland. 

By 51 percent to 42 percent, the people polled support extending voting rights to non-citizen parents in local school board elections where their children attend. 

In the Bay Area, more than half (54 percent) of 1,233 people surveyed supported the proposal.  

“Non-citizen voting is percolating in local municipalities throughout the state,” Annette Wong, managing director of programs at Chinese for Affirmative Action, a community-based civil rights organization advocating for racial justice and immigrant rights, said in a statement. “This poll reflects the re-emerging popularity of non-citizen voting as an important step toward bringing us closer to a truer democracy.”   

A majority of those polled (52 percent) oppose allowing 16- and 17-year-olds attending local public schools to vote in school board elections. 

The poll had a margin for error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Charles is a Knight Foundation intern at Bay City News and a Master of Journalist candidate at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He freelanced for Oakland Side and Oakland North on race, equity, and health outcomes in the Bay Area. Before his graduate studies, Charles worked as a Business reporter in Ghana, West Africa, covering financial markets and rising startups. At Bay City News, he is interested in reporting on public health and the intersections of race and equity in the Bay Area.