BILL ANALYSIS Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair 787 (Hill) Hearing Date: 8/17/2009 Amended: 6/1/2009 Consultant: Maureen Ortiz Policy Vote: ER&CA 5-0 _________________________________________________________________ ____ BILL SUMMARY: AB 787 requires local county elections officials to notify voters when excess postage is necessary to mail a ballot. _________________________________________________________________ ____ Fiscal Impact (in thousands) Major Provisions 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 Fund Notification costs -----potentially $100 per statewide election----- General* *Reimbursable state-mandated local program _________________________________________________________________ ____ STAFF COMMENTS: This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense file. Counties will most likely provide the postage requirement through an insert accompanying the vote by mail ballot materials. Approximately 5.7 million vote by mail ballots were sent out for the February 2008 primary election. If insert costs were $0.065 per ballot, total reimbursable annual costs would be as high as $370,500. However, it is likely that not all counties would experience ballots that necessitate extra postage at the same time, therefore, reimbursable costs would probably be closer to $100,000 per statewide election. AB 787 provides that when elections officials determine that more than one first-class stamp is required to return a vote by mail ballot, notification will be provided to the voter of how many first-class stamps or the equivalent postage is required. The bill provides that the elections official shall use the most cost-effective means available to notify the voter of the need for additional postage. In responding to a similar bill last year (AB 984, Price, which was held on this committee's Suspense File last year) the County Association of Clerks and Elections Officials (CACEO) indicated that printing the required postage on the identification envelope is not a viable option since the envelopes are printed in bulk for cost savings purposes, and the final size of the ballot is not determined until after the printing deadline for the envelopes. Therefore, a separate insert will likely be used. In the 2006 Gubernatorial General election, 25 counties required more than one stamp to return an absentee ballot. Some counties have individually worked with the USPS to ensure that any vote by mail ballot with at least one stamp be delivered and the county reimburses the USPS for the shortfall in postage. To the extent that voters place sufficient postage on each ballot in future elections, counties would incur savings from no longer reimbursing the USPS for shortfalls.