BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  SB 362
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   June 25, 2013

                  ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON ELECTIONS AND REDISTRICTING
                                  Paul Fong, Chair
                    SB 362 (Padilla) - As Amended:  April 8, 2013

           SENATE VOTE  :   30-7
           
          SUBJECT  :   Voting procedures: natural disasters.

           SUMMARY  :   Authorizes an emergency worker, as defined, to cast a  
          ballot outside of his or her precinct upon the declaration of an  
          out-of-state emergency by the Governor and the issuance of an  
          executive order, as specified.  Specifically,  this bill  :   

          1)Makes the following findings and declarations:

             a)   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 vote by mail (VBM) ballots by the United States  
               Postal Service, and displace election officials and  
               interrupt their duties.

             b)   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. 

             c)   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.

          2)Defines an emergency worker, for the purposes of this bill, to  
            mean 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  








                                                                  SB 362
                                                                  Page  2

            state of emergency.

          3)Requires an elections official, 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, to issue  
            a VBM ballot to an emergency worker upon request using a  
            process to be determined by the elections official.

          4)Provides that in order to be counted, a VBM ballot cast  
            pursuant to this bill shall 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.

          5)Requires an elections official, upon receipt of the returned  
            ballot, to process the ballot in accordance with existing law.  


          6)Permits a VBM ballot to be sent to the emergency worker via  
            electronic mail or facsimile.

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Provides that, 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.

          2)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.

          3)Designates the SOS as the chief elections officer of  
            California.

          4)Permits the Governor, during a state of war or a state of  
            emergency, to suspend any regulatory statute, or statute  








                                                                  SB 362
                                                                  Page  3

            prescribing the procedure for conduct of state business, or  
            the orders, rules, or regulations of any state agency.  

          5)Permits the Governor, during a state of war emergency or state  
            of emergency, to make, amend, and rescind orders and  
            regulations that have the force and effect of law.  Requires  
            all orders, regulations, amendments, or rescissions be issued  
            in writing and take effect immediately upon their issuance.   
            Requires the orders and regulations to have no further force  
            or effect once the state of war emergency or state of  
            emergency has been terminated.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   According to the Senate Appropriations  
          Committee, unknown costs but likely less than $25,000 (General  
          Fund). 

          Actual costs are unknown and will depend on the extent and  
          frequency of the disaster, whether the disaster occurs during an  
          election period, and the number of personnel who are not already  
          registered as vote-by-mail voters.  State-mandated local  
          program; contains reimbursement direction.  

           COMMENTS  :   

           1)Purpose of the Bill  :  According to the author:

               Last November we saw how a natural disaster outside of  
               California can affect our voters. Hurricane Sandy made  
               landfall on the east coast a week before election the 2012  
               Presidential Election.

               Immediately, volunteers from the California Utilities  
               Emergency Association were called in to help. The  
               association represents almost 90 cities, state agencies,  
               and public & private utilities. These volunteers had little  
               time to prepare special arrangements to vote. And many had  
               missed the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot. 

               Neither the Governor nor the Secretary of State nor County  
               Election Officials had the authority to allow the  
               volunteers to vote under special circumstances. Hundreds of  
               California disaster relief volunteers were unable to vote.  
               SB 362 will change that.

               Under current law, the Governor can declare a state of  








                                                                  SB 362
                                                                  Page  4

               emergency and authorize certain voting benefits to  
               emergency workers assisting within California.  Current law  
               does not provide any process for California emergency  
               workers helping outside the state. SB 362 will apply the  
               current process for instate disasters to out of state  
               disasters.

           2)Out-of-State Emergencies  :  As mentioned above, Hurricane  
            Sandy, which occurred during the 2012 November general  
            election, was an eye opening experience that prompted many  
            states to question and consider whether they were ready and  
            prepared for the next emergency.  In times of emergencies,  
            having clear direction on what is permitted and what is not  
            can be helpful.  For instance, according to the background  
            material provided by the author, 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, and the California Emergency Management  
            Urban Search and Rescue Team, and many other California  
            residents went to New York and New Jersey to volunteer.  Many  
            of the California volunteers had little time to prepare  
            special arrangements to vote and the deadline to apply for a  
            VBM ballot had already passed.  Consequently, the California  
            Utilities Emergency Association (CUEA), which overseas  
            California's national relief efforts, found that several  
            hundred utility workers were unable to vote.  

          Current law provides that, 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.  However, the author's statement points out that  
            current law does not provide the Governor, the SOS, or county  
            elections officials with the authority to allow out-of-state  
            volunteers to vote under special circumstances.  The  
            provisions of this bill will address this issue and require an  
            elections official, 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 issue a  
            VBM ballot, upon request, to an emergency worker using a  
            process determined by the elections official.  In addition,  








                                                                  SB 362
                                                                  Page  5

            this bill allows the VBM ballot to be sent to the emergency  
            worker via electronic mail or facsimile.  Providing county  
            elections official with the flexibility to send a VBM ballot  
            via email or fax and allowing emergency workers extra time for  
            their ballot to be received by the elections official will  
            ensure California volunteers are not disenfranchised.  

           3)Efforts on the Federal Level  :  To support state efforts aimed  
            at establishing sound administrative election practices in  
            emergency conditions, the members of the National Association  
            of Secretaries of State (NASS), earlier this year, created the  
            NASS Task Force on Emergency Preparedness for Elections.  The  
            task force is a national initiative, formed in the wake of  
            Hurricane Sandy.  The effort, which includes chief state  
            election officials from twenty-two states and the District of  
            Columbia, will focus on identifying laws and practices that  
            enhance the ability of state election officials to prepare  
            for, and respond to, emergency situations.  The task force  
            also works closely with other stakeholder organizations,  
            including the National Emergency Management Association and  
            the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Secretary of State  
            Debra Bowen is a member of the newly formed task force.
          According to the NASS website, the task force convened a  
            conference call in March of this year to determine the range  
            of issues that will be researched.  Emergency planning and  
            response issues that arose due to Hurricane Sandy included  
            emergency voting/absentee ballot procedures,  
            state-local/municipal information sharing and emergency  
            communications, equipment shortages, emergency authority  
            issues, and continuity of elections.  Additionally, the task  
            force is planning to release a white paper early next year.

           4)Arguments in Support  :  VerifiedVoting.org writes in support:

               SB 362 would facilitate the process of maintaining the  
               voting rights of emergency workers who leave the state  
               during an emergency in order to provide aid in an official  
               capacity.  This bill would allow a vote by mail ballot to  
               be transmitted to an emergency worker by email or fax,  
               while the worker would return the ballot by mail.  The  
               framework and procedures set up by this bill would preserve  
               the security of the worker's ballot while still ensuring  
               that he or she is able to vote and have his or her ballot  
               counted. 









                                                                  SB 362
                                                                  Page  6

           5)State Mandates  :  The last three state budgets have suspended  
            various state mandates as a mechanism for cost savings.  Among  
            the mandates that were suspended were all six existing  
            elections-related mandates.  Additionally, the 2013-2014 state  
            budget that was approved by the Legislature earlier this month  
            suspended three additional newly identified elections-related  
            mandates.  This bill adds another mandate on local elections  
            officials. The Committee may wish to consider whether it is  
            desirable to create new election mandates when current  
            elections-related mandates are suspended.

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

           7)Related Legislation  :  AB 214 (Skinner), which is pending in  
            the Senate Appropriations Committee, would require the SOS, by  
            December 31, 2014, 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.  AB 214 passed out of this committee on a 5-0 vote.





























                                                                  SB 362
                                                                  Page  7

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :

           Support 
           
          American Red Cross
          California Professional Firefighters
          California State Council of the Service Employees International  
          Union
          National Council of Jewish Women, California
          Pacific Gas and Electric
          PowerPAC.org
          Rock the Vote
          Sacramento Municipal Utility District
            San Diego Gas & Electric Company 
          Secretary of State Debra Bowen
            Southern California Gas Company
          VerifiedVoting.org

           Opposition 
           
          None on file.

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Nichole Becker / E. & R. / (916)  
          319-2094