BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                         SENATE COMMITTEE ON ELECTIONS 
                         AND CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
                           Senator Lou Correa, Chair


          BILL NO:   SB 362            HEARING DATE: 04/30/13
          AUTHOR:    PADILLA           ANALYSIS BY:  Frances Tibon  
          Estoista
          AMENDED:   04/08/13
          FISCAL:    YES
          
                                     SUBJECT
           
          Voting procedures:  natural disasters

                                   DESCRIPTION  
          
           Existing law  provides, upon the declaration of a state of  
          emergency by the Governor and the issuance of an executive  
          order authorizing an emergency worker to cast a ballot  
          outside of his or her home precinct, elections officials in  
          the counties included in the executive order shall, upon  
          demand, issue to an emergency worker a provisional ballot  
          that may be identical to the provisional ballot offered to  
          other voters in the county, using a process to be  
          determined by the elections official.

           Existing law  also requires an elections official to  
          transmit for processing any ballot cast, including any  
          materials necessary to process the ballot, to the elections  
          official in the county where the voter is registered to  
          vote.

           This bill  finds and declares all of the following:

             Natural disasters outside California can affect a state  
             resident's ability to vote.  Earthquakes, hurricanes,  
             and other disasters can destroy or damage election  
             infrastructure, including the electrical and  
             telecommunications grid and polling places, disrupt the  
             delivery of VBM ballots by the United States Postal  
             Service, and displace election officials and interrupt  
             their duties.

             California residents volunteer to help victims of  
             natural disasters, including their family members.   









             California voters, such as firefighters, police  
             officers, National Guardsmen, utility workers, and  
             average citizens travel to areas affected by disasters  
             for extended periods of time to help with recovery  
             efforts that can include other states and countries.   
             Disasters and volunteer efforts can occur close to an  
             election and affect a volunteer's ability to vote.

             Currently, neither the Governor, the Secretary of State  
             (SOS), nor county elections officials have the authority  
             to establish procedures and guidelines to specifically  
             allow residents affected by an out-of-state disaster to  
             vote.

           This bill  defines "emergency worker" as a person who is  
          officially engaged in responding to the proclamation of an  
          out-of-state emergency and whose vocation has been  
          identified in an executive order relating to the state of  
          emergency.

           This bill  provides that upon the declaration of an  
           out-of-state  emergency by the Governor and the issuance of  
          an executive order authorizing an emergency worker to cast  
          a ballot outside of his or her home precinct, a county  
          elections official shall, upon request, issue a VBM ballot  
          to an emergency worker using a process to be determined by  
          that elections official.

           This bill  requires that in order to be counted, a VBM  
          ballot cast by a voter be received by the elections  
          official no later than three days after election day and  
          postmarked on or before election day or time-stamped or  
          date-stamped by a private mail delivery company on or  
          before election day.

           This bill  requires that upon receipt of the returned  
          ballot, an elections official process the ballot.

           This bill  provides that a VBM ballot may be sent to the  
          emergency worker via electronic mail or facsimile.

                                    BACKGROUND  
          
          When PG&E sent crews to the East Coast to help restore  
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          power because of Hurricane Sandy, many of the crewmembers  
          were unable to vote prior to their departure.  This  
          predicament was not unique to PG&E and it extended to other  
          utilities both in and out of California along with disaster  
          relief workers from groups like the Red Cross.

          Questions were raised internally about how PG&E could help  
          its employees vote especially after a few exceptions were  
          made in other states that are in closer proximity to the  
          impacted areas:

             Governor O'Malley of Maryland signed an executive order  
             assisting those who could not apply for an absentee  
             ballot due to Hurricane Sandy.
             Governor Christie of New Jersey made available the  
             ability for voters displaced by the storm to vote by  
             email.
             Florida Power and Light deployed assistance workers in  
             response to Hurricane Sandy with crewmembers  
             coordinating absentee ballot requests in the field.
             Alliant Energy also assisted and coordinated absentee  
             ballot delivery to workers in the field with a law firm  
             in Albany, New York.

          PG&E worked with Sempra, Southern California Edison and the  
          SOS's office to devise a way for workers to vote on the  
          local level, as each county in California has a different  
          set of rules.  Various options were investigated, but then  
          jettisoned because they could not be implemented due to  
          legal authority or timing issues.  In the end, PG&E and the  
          other California utilities appear to have run out of time  
          due to California election law and a tight turnaround time.

                                     COMMENTS  
          
            1. According to the author  :  Californian residents  
             volunteer to assist in natural disaster relief efforts  
             across the U.S. and the world.  They travel to areas  
             affected by disasters for extended periods of time to  
             help with recovery.  These efforts can occur close to an  
             election and affect a volunteer's ability to vote, such  
             as Hurricane Sandy which occurred a week before the 2012  
             Presidential Election.

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           In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy the Los Angeles  
             Department of Water & Power, SoCal Edison, San Diego Gas  
             & Electric, Pacific Gas & Electric, the California Red  
             Cross, the California National Guard, and the California  
             Emergency Management Urban Search and Rescue Team, and  
             many other California residents went to New York and New  
             Jersey to volunteer.

           The California volunteers had little time to prepare  
             special arrangements to vote and the deadline to apply  
             for an absentee ballot had already passed.  The deadline  
             is seven days before an election.  Neither the Governor  
             nor Secretary of State nor County Election Officials had  
             the authority to allow the volunteers to vote under  
             special circumstances.

              2.   Related legislation  :  AB 1440 (Swanson), Ch. 395,  
               Statutes of 2009, allows emergency personnel who are  
               officially engaged in responding to a state of  
               emergency after a disaster such as fire, earthquake,  
               etc., to vote in an election by casting a provisional  
               ballot within any county in California.

             AB 214 (Skinner) of this session would require the SOS,  
               by December 31, 2014, and in consultation with county  
               elections officials, to establish procedures and  
               guidelines for voting in the event of a natural  
               disaster or other state of emergency.  Also requires  
               the SOS publish those procedures and guidelines on his  
               or her Internet Web site.  AB 214 just passed out of  
               the Assembly.

                                    POSITIONS  
          
          Sponsor: Author

           Support: American Red Cross 
                    California State Council of the Service Employees  
                   International Union
                      (SEIU)
                    Common Cause
                    Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)
                    PowerPAC.org
                    Rock the Vote
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                    Secretary of State
                    
           Oppose:  None received







































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