BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                           CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
                          Senator Loni Hancock, Chair

          BILL NO:   AB 2101             HEARING DATE:6/15/10
          AUTHOR:    FONG                ANALYSIS BY:Frances Tibon  
          AMENDED:   5/20/10
          FISCAL:    NO
          Elections: prohibiting payments

           Existing law  makes certain activities relating to voter  
          registration a criminal offense, including the following:

             Registering a person, including oneself, who is not  
             entitled to register to vote;
             Registering a fictitious person to vote;
             Registering a person to vote under a false name or  
             Interfering with the return of a completed affidavit of  
             voter registration;
             Refusing to return a completed affidavit of  
             Altering the content of an affidavit of registration  
             without the consent of the affiant; and,
             Misusing the information from an affidavit of  

           Existing law  prohibits various conduct with respect to the  
          circulation of an initiative, referendum, or recall  
          petition, including the following:

             Misrepresentation by the circulator of a petition of  
             the contents, purport, or effect of the petition;
             Refusal by the circulator to allow a petition signer to  
             read the petition;
             Obscuring the summary of a measure prepared by the  
             Attorney General from the view of a prospective signer;
             Offering or giving money or other valuable  
             consideration in exchange for a person's signature on a  


             Affixing or soliciting false or forged signatures, or  
             fictitious names, on a petition;
             Using the information on a petition that has been  
             signed by voters, including the voters' signatures, for  
             any purpose other than the qualification of the measure  
             for the ballot; and,
             Making a false affidavit concerning a petition.

           This bill  authorizes a court upon finding a person guilty  
          of the aforementioned violations, to issue an order, as a  
          condition of probation, that the person be prohibited from  
          receiving money or other valuable consideration for 1)  
          assisting another person to register to vote by receiving  
          the completed affidavit or 2) for gathering signatures on  
          an initiative, referendum or recall petition.

           Bounty Hunters  .  The individuals who are paid to collect  
          signatures on initiative, referendum, recall petitions or  
          voter registrations are commonly referred to as "bounty  

          To qualify an initiative to be placed on the statewide  
          ballot, proponents must gather hundreds of thousands of  
          signatures.  The need to collect this large number of  
          signatures within a limited timeframe has given rise to an  
          industry of petition management firms that pay signature  
          gatherers a bounty based on the number of signatures they  

          Stories about voters being misled into signing initiative  
          petitions that they do not support or having their party  
          affiliations changed without their consent are all too  
          common.  In the last two election cycles, individuals  
          registering voters in Southern California have been  
          arrested and charged in schemes to change voters' partisan  
          affiliations without the voters' consent. Additionally, the  
          Orange County Register reported on complaints of a similar  
          scheme in Southern California earlier this year.

          AB 2101 (FONG)                                         Page  


           1.According to the author  :  Numerous complaints in recent  
            years have uncovered a common tactic of dishonest  
            signature gatherers, who tell voters that they need to  
            sign multiple times to have their signature counted on an  
            initiative petition.  These signature gatherers then get  
            voters to sign other initiative petitions without  
            disclosing to the voter what those petitions would do.   
            Previous efforts to limit the ability to pay "bounties"  
            for collecting signatures on petitions or registering  
            voters have failed due to concerns that such laws may  
            make it more difficult for grassroots organizations to  
            gather signatures on petitions and register voters.

          In reflection of those concerns, AB 2101 takes a narrower  
            approach.  AB 2101 cracks down on initiative fraud and  
            voter registration fraud by allowing courts to ban  
            individuals who are convicted of fraud from being paid to  
            collect signatures on initiative petitions or for  
            registering voters.  Law abiding citizens who are paid to  
            register voters and collect signatures on petitions would  
            not be affected by this bill.  Instead, this bill takes  
            aim at those who have been convicted of fraudulent  
            behavior, and gives judges the tools to prevent those  
            individuals from continuing to threaten the integrity of  
            California's elections.
           2.Similar Laws in Other States  :  The provisions of this  
            bill are similar to laws enacted in Arizona and Oregon in  
            2009 which prohibit petition circulators who are  
            convicted of fraud from being compensated for collecting  
            signatures on initiative, referendum, or recall  
            petitions.  In 2009, Oregon's Legislature approved and  
            the Governor signed HB 2005, which among other provisions  
            prohibits a person from being eligible to register as a  
            petition circulator if that person has had criminal or  
            civil penalties imposed against him or her for a  
            violation of the state's laws governing the circulation  
            of petitions.  In Arizona, the Legislature approved and  
            the Governor approved SB 1091, which among other  
            provisions prohibits a person convicted of engaging in a  
            pattern of petition fraud from participating in any  
            initiative, referendum, or recall campaign for five  

          AB 2101 (FONG)                                         Page  


          3.Previous Legislation  :  SB 34 (Corbett) of 2009 would have  
            made it a misdemeanor for a person to pay or to receive  
            money or any other thing of value based on the number of  
            signatures collected on a state or local initiative,  
            referendum, or recall petition.  SB 34 was vetoed by the  
            Governor, who expressed concern that it could "make it  
            more difficult for grassroots organizations to gather the  
            necessary signatures and qualify measures for the  

          SB 1686 (Denham) of 2008 would have made it a misdemeanor,  
            punishable by a fine not exceeding $5,000, by  
            imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or  
            by both the fine and imprisonment, for a person, company,  
            organization, company official, or other organizational  
            officer in charge of a person who circulates an  
            initiative, referendum, or recall petition to knowingly  
            direct or permit the person to make a false affidavit  
            concerning the initiative, referendum, or recall  
            petition.  SB 1686 was vetoed by the Governor, though he  
            did not express any policy objections to the bill.

          AB 2946 (Leno) of 2006, among other provisions, would have  
            invalidated any signatures collected in violation of any  
            provision of state law relating to the circulation of a  
            statewide initiative, referendum, or recall petition,  
            would have required proponents of a statewide initiative,  
            referendum, or recall to notify the Secretary of State if  
            they became aware of unlawful conduct by the circulators  
            of their petitions, and would have made the proponents  
            civilly liable if they failed to do so, among other  
            provisions.  AB 2946 was vetoed by Governor  

          AB 980 (Pavley) of 2001 would have limited payment on a  
            per-piece or per-signature basis for individuals  
            gathering signatures, registering voters, or distributing  
            absentee ballot applications.  AB 980 was approved by the  
            Assembly Elections Committee but was never brought up for  
            a vote on the Assembly Floor.

                                   PRIOR ACTION
          Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee:  6-0
          AB 2101 (FONG)                                         Page  


          Assembly Judiciary Committee:             10-0
          Assembly Appropriations Committee:        15-0
          Assembly Floor:                           74-0

          Sponsor: Author

           Support: California Association of Clerks and Election  
                   Officials (CACEO)

           Oppose:  None received

          AB 2101 (FONG)                                         Page