SB 362, as amended, Padilla. Voting procedures: natural disasters.
Existing law designates the Secretary of State as the chief elections officer of the state and requires him or her to study and adopt regulations governing the use of voting machines, voting devices, vote tabulating devices, and ballot marking systems. Existing law also establishes procedures for the marking and counting of ballots in the case of electrical failure or other emergency.
This bill would make legislative findings relating to natural disasters outside California and their effect on a state resident’s ability to vote. The bill would, upon the declaration of an out-of-state emergency by the Governor and the issuance of an executive order authorizing an emergency worker, as defined, to cast a ballot outside of his or her home precinct, require a county elections official to issue an emergency worker a vote by mail ballot upon that worker’s request. By imposing a new duty on local officials, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: yes.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
The Legislature finds and declares all of the
3(a) Natural disasters outside California can affect a state
4resident’s ability to vote. Earthquakes, hurricanes, and other
5disasters can destroy or damage election infrastructure, including
6the electrical and telecommunications grid and polling places,
7disrupt the delivery of vote by mail ballots by the United States
8Postal Service, and displace election officials and interrupt their
10(b) California residents volunteer to help victims of natural
11disasters, including their family members. California voters, such
12as firefighters, police officers, National Guardsmen, utility workers,
13and average citizens travel to areas affected by disasters for
14extended periods of time to help with recovery efforts that can
15include other states and countries. Disasters and volunteer efforts
16can occur close to an election and affect a volunteer’s ability to
18(c) Currently, neither the Governor, the Secretary of State, nor
19county elections officials have the authority to establish procedures
20and guidelines to specifically allow residents affected by an
21out-of-state disaster to vote.
Section 19006 is added to the Elections Code, to read:
(a) For purposes of this section, “emergency worker”
24means a person who is officially engaged in responding to the
25proclamation of an out-of-state emergency and whose vocation
26has been identified in an executive order relating to the state of
28(b) Upon the declaration of an out-of-state emergency by the
29Governor and the issuance of an executive order authorizing an
30emergency worker to cast a ballot outside of his or her home
31precinct, a county elections official shall, upon request, issue a
P3 1vote by mail ballot to an emergency worker using a process to be
2determined by that elections official.
3(c) In order to be counted, a vote by mail ballot cast pursuant
4to this section shall be received by the elections official no later
5than three days after election day and postmarked on or before
6election day or time-stamped or date-stamped by a private mail
7delivery company on or before election day.
8(d) Upon receipt of the returned ballot, the elections official
9shall process the ballot pursuant to the procedures in Section 3019.
10(e) A vote by mail ballot may be sent to the emergency worker
11via electronic mail or facsimile.
If the Commission on State Mandates determines that
11this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to
12local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made
13pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division
144 of Title 2 of the Government Code.