BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 787
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:  April 30, 2009

                                  Paul Fong, Chair
                     AB 787 (Hill) - As Amended:  April 15, 2009
          SUBJECT  :  State Commission on Juvenile Justice: report.

           SUMMARY  :  Requires elections officials to notify voters of the  
          amount of postage that is necessary to return a vote by mail  
          (VBM) ballot if more than one first-class stamp is required.   
          Specifically,  this bill  requires the elections official, if he  
          or she determines that more than one first-class stamp or  
          equivalent postage is required to return a VBM ballot, to  
          provide a notification to the voter of how many first-class  
          stamps or equivalent postage is required. 

           EXISTING LAW  : 

          1) Provides that all VBM ballots must be voted on or before the  
             day of the election and must be received by either the  
             elections official from whom it came or the precinct board  
             before the close of polls on election day.

          2) Requires the elections official to deliver voting materials  
             to each qualified applicant for a VBM ballot, including an  
             identification envelope in which to return the VBM ballot  
             that contains the following:

              a)     A declaration, under penalty of perjury, stating that  
                 the voter resides within the precinct in which he or she  
                 is voting and is the person whose name appears on the  

              b)     The signature of the voter;

              c)     The residence address of the voter as shown on the  
                 affidavit of registration;

              d)     The date of signing;

              e)     A warning plainly stamped or printed on it that the  
                 voter must sign the envelope in his or her own  
                 handwriting in order for the ballot to be counted;


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              f)     A statement that the voter has neither applied, nor  
                 intends to apply, for a VBM ballot from any other  
                 jurisdiction for the same election; and,

              g)     The name and signature of the person, if any,  
                 authorized to return the VBM ballot.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown. State-mandated local program; contains  
          reimbursement direction.


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           COMMENTS  :   

           1) Purpose of the Bill  :  According to the author: 

               The number of Californians who vote by mail has swelled in  
               recent years. In the November 2000 General Election,  
               approximately 24% of the 11.1 million ballots were cast by  
               mail rather than at polling places. During the last  
               presidential election four years ago, 32.6% of the 12.6  
               million Californian ballots came in by mail. In the primary  
               elections in February and June of this year, 41.7% and  
               58.7% of ballots were cast by mail, respectively.

               As more voters cast their ballots by mail, stamps are  
               becoming an election issue. During the November race,  
               election blogs throughout California were busy with  
               questions from voters who were worried that their ballot  
               was going to be returned due to lack of proper postage.  

               However, while local elections officials don't advertise  
               it, some counties in the state have arrangements with the  
               Postal Service to deliver ballots and other  
               election-related mail - even if it is short on stamps.   
               Despite this agreement, the idea is not to subsidize the  
               cost of a ballot.  

               AB 787 simply seeks to inform the voter of the postage  
               necessary for their ballot to be delivered to the  
               registrar's office and save local governments money.

           2) Prior Legislation  :  AB 984 (Price) of 2008, would have  
             required elections officials to notify VBM voters when more  
             than one first-class stamp was required to return their VBM  
             ballot.  This bill was held on the Senate Appropriations  
             Committee's suspense file. 

             AB 1167 (Nava), which was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger,  
             would have required county elections officials to negotiate  
             with the United States Postal Service to ensure that all VBM  
             ballots would be delivered regardless of whether sufficient  
             postage was provided and required elections officials to  
             provide a notice to VBM voters when more than one first-class  


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             stamp was required to return their VBM ballot.  In his veto  
             message, the Governor indicated that he was vetoing the bill  
             because he "cannot support the provision of this bill that  
             requires local election officials to negotiate with the  
             United States Postal Service to ensure all [vote-by-mail]  
             ballots are delivered even if they have insufficient  
             postage." The Governor expressed his concern that such a  
             provision was "unnecessary and fail[ed] to appropriately  
             recognize the responsibility of [vote-by-mail] voters to use  
             sufficient postage when returning their ballot."  

             However, the Governor also indicated in his veto message that  
             he thought that the requirement for election officials to  
             notify VBM voters if a ballot will require more than one  
             stamp to return in the mail was "a common sense proposal that  
             appropriately places shared responsibility on all parties."

           3) Title  :  The current title of this bill refers to the prior  
             version of the bill.  Although the title of the bill is  
             "State Commission on Juvenile Justice: report," the content  
             of the bill deals with VBM voting.  


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          None on file.

          None on file.
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Lori Barber / E. & R. / (916) 319-2094