BILL ANALYSIS Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair 2369 (Block) Hearing Date: 08/02/2010 Amended: As Introduced Consultant: Maureen Ortiz Policy Vote: ER&CA 4-0 _________________________________________________________________ ____ BILL SUMMARY: AB 2369 eliminates a sunset on a provision of law that authorizes a special absentee voter to transmit his or her ballot via facsimile transmission to the county elections official. _________________________________________________________________ ____ Fiscal Impact (in thousands) Major Provisions 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 Fund Admin expenses ------------unknown, not significant--------- General* *Reimbursable local mandate _________________________________________________________________ ____ STAFF COMMENTS: Since the authorization to allow special absentee voters to fax their ballots to their county elections officials began in 2005, counties have not expressed any significant fiscal impact for processing these ballots, and are in support of this measure. Current law allows a voter who is temporarily living outside the United States or is called to military service to return his or her vote by mail ballot by fax. The ballot must be received by the county elections official by the close of polls on elections day and must be accompanied by both an identification envelope and an oath of voter declaration. This authorization was first established pursuant to AB 2941 (Bates, Chapter 821, Statutes of 2004), was extended by AB 2786 (Salas, Chapter 252 of 2008) and is currently scheduled to sunset on January 1, 2011. The original legislation required the Secretary of State (SOS) to report by December 31, 2008 on the benefits and problems of allowing voters to return ballots by fax. The SOS reported that 11,997 ballots were returned by fax for the November 2008 General Election, and of those, 875 were rejected and not counted. The most common reasons for rejection included the voters' failure to forward or sign the oath, and poor facsimile quality. In order for a faxed ballot to be counted, the voter must sign an oath declaring under penalty of perjury that the information they have provided in the fax is true and correct, waiving their right to have the ballot kept secret, and proclaiming that they have not voted more than once. Upon receipt of the ballot by the elections official, the signature on the ballot is compared to the signature on the voter's affidavit of registration to verify the voter's eligibility to vote.