BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                       



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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                  AB 2101|
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                                 THIRD READING


          Bill No:  AB 2101
          Author:   Fong (D)
          Amended:  5/20/10 in Senate
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE ELECTIONS, REAPP. & C.A. COMM.  :  5-0, 6/15/10
          AYES:  Hancock, Denham, DeSaulnier, Liu, Strickland
           
          SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE  :  7-0, 6/29/10
          AYES:  Leno, Cogdill, Cedillo, Hancock, Huff, Steinberg,  
            Wright
           
          ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  74-0, 5/6/10 (Consent) - See last page for  
            vote


           SUBJECT  :    Elections:  prohibiting payments

           SOURCE  :     California Association of Clerks and Election  
          Officials


           DIGEST  :    This bill authorizes a court, upon finding a  
          person guilty of engaging in prohibited voter registration  
          activities, to order, as a condition of probation, that the  
          person be prohibited from receiving money or other  
          consideration for assisting another person to register to  
          vote.  This bill also authorizes a court, upon finding a  
          person guilty of violating provisions of law making certain  
          activities relating to the circulation of an initiative,  
          referendum, or recall petition a criminal offense.

                                                           CONTINUED





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           ANALYSIS  :    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  
            address.

           Interfering with the return of a completed affidavit of  
            voter registration.

           Refusing to return a completed affidavit of registration.

           Altering the content of an affidavit of registration  
            without the consent of the affiant.

           Misusing the information from an affidavit of  
            registration.

          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 petition.

           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  







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            purpose other than the qualification of the measure for  
            the ballot.

           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.

           Background  

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

          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  
          collect.

           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/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 years.  

          Prior Legislation  







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          SB 34 (Corbett), 2009-10 Session, 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.  The bill 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 ballot."

          SB 1686 (Denham), 2007-08 Session, 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.  The bill was  
          vetoed by the Governor, though he did not express any  
          policy objections to the bill.

          AB 2946 (Leno), 2005-06 Session, 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.  The bill was vetoed by Governor  
          Schwarzenegger.

          AB 980 (Pavley), 2001-02 Session, would have limited  
          payment on a per-piece or per-signature basis for  
          individuals gathering signatures, registering voters, or  
          distributing absentee ballot applications.  The bill was  
          approved by the Assembly Elections Committee but was never  
          brought up for a vote on the Assembly Floor.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  No    
          Local:  No








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           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  7/1/10)

          California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials  
          (source)


           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    According to the author's office,  
          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, this bill takes a narrower  
          approach.  This bill 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.


           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  : 
          AYES:  Adams, Ammiano, Anderson, Arambula, Beall, Bill  
            Berryhill, Tom Berryhill, Blakeslee, Blumenfield,  
            Bradford, Brownley, Buchanan, Caballero, Charles  
            Calderon, Carter, Chesbro, Conway, Cook, Coto, Davis, De  
            Leon, DeVore, Emmerson, Eng, Evans, Feuer, Fletcher,  
            Fong, Fuentes, Fuller, Furutani, Gaines, Galgiani,  
            Garrick, Hagman, Hall, Harkey, Hayashi, Hernandez, Hill,  
            Huber, Huffman, Jeffries, Jones, Knight, Lieu, Logue,  
            Bonnie Lowenthal, Ma, Miller, Monning, Nava, Nestande,  







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            Niello, Nielsen, Norby, V. Manuel Perez, Portantino,  
            Ruskin, Salas, Saldana, Silva, Skinner, Smyth, Solorio,  
            Audra Strickland, Swanson, Torlakson, Torres, Torrico,  
            Tran, Villines, Yamada, John A. Perez
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Bass, Block, De La Torre, Gilmore,  
            Mendoza, Vacancy


          DLW:mw  7/1/10   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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