California state lawmaker brings newborn to vote after being denied proxy

California state lawmaker brings newborn to vote after being denied proxy
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A California lawmaker brought her newborn baby with her to the state capitol in Sacramento after she was told she could not vote by proxy Monday.

Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D) was told that she did not meet the standards for using a proxy to vote due to coronavirus concerns despite having given birth recently.

Instead, Wicks traveled from Oakland to Sacramento with her month-old daughter to argue in favor of a bill that would streamline the process for creating multi-unit housing.

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“Please, please, please pass this bill,” she said, according to Politico. “And I’m going to go finish feeding my daughter.”

State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) has final say over which members are allowed to vote by proxy. Erin Ivie, a spokesperson for Wicks, told Politico her request was denied because “maternity leave is not eligible for proxy voting.”

“The speaker understands that members are committed to performing their legislative duties, while still trying to minimize risk of Covid-19 exposure. The house resolution pertaining to proxy voting is very specific, in that only members at a higher risk from Covid-19 will be considered eligible for proxy voting,” Rendon spokesperson Katie Talbot said in an email. “This bar of eligibility was always intended to be high, to ensure the protection of our legislative process.”

Advocacy organizations have condemned Rendon’s decision as arbitrary and potentially dangerous to public health. Jill Habig, founder of civil rights organization the Public Rights Project, said the decision was “absolutely outrageous.”