BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  SB 589
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   July 3, 2013

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                                  Mike Gatto, Chair

                      SB 589 (Hill) - As Amended:  June 4, 2013 

          Policy Committee:                             ElectionsVote:6-0

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          Yes    Reimbursable:              No

           SUMMARY  

          This bill:

          1)Requires election officials to establish a free access system  
            that allows a vote-by-mail (VBM) voter to confirm whether  
            their VBM ballot was counted and, if not, the reason it was  
            not counted. This system is to be available for at least 30  
            days after completion of the official canvas following an  
            election.

          2)Permits an elections official not to mail a sample ballot to a  
            permanent VBM voter if the elections official mails to every  
            voter a voter information guide, as specified.

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          1)Given that similar notifications are already required for  
            provisional ballots and that VBM voters may already obtain  
            information regarding whether their ballot was received (see  
            Comments #2d and #2e), any additional reimbursable costs to  
            inform a VBM voter should be minor.

          2)Potential minor savings to counties in printing and mailing  
            costs from omitting sample ballot language from the voter  
            information guide sent to permanent VBM voters.

           COMMENTS  

           1)Purpose  . Under current law, there are a number of reasons why  
            a VBM ballot that was completed and returned to the elections  
            official may not be counted.  Two of the most common reasons  
            are (a) ballots arriving after election day, and (b) the  








                                                                  SB 589
                                                                  Page  2

            signature on the identification envelope does not match the  
            one on the original affidavit of registration. (Illness and  
            age can be factors that contribute to a signature changing  
            over time.) 

            By providing VBM voters an opportunity to verify if their  
            ballot has been counted, and a reason if it was not counted,  
            voters whose ballots were unable to be counted can take  
            appropriate steps to ensure that their VBM ballots are counted  
            in the future. VBM balloting has increased significantly, and  
            reached 51% of all ballots cast in the November 2012 election.  
            Almost 60,000 of the 6.7 million VBM ballots cast in that  
            election were rejected, however.

            In addition, SB 589 allows county registrars to omit the  
            sample ballot language when mailing the voter information  
            guide to permanent VBM voters.  This cost-saving option is  
            reasonable since these voters will receive their actual ballot  
            shortly after they receive the voter information guide.  
            Instead of receiving the ballot language twice, VBM voters  
            will receive it once, when they receive their ballot.

           2)Prior Legislation  .  

             a)   AB 294 (Hill), which contained the free access  
               provisions of this bill, was vetoed, with Governor Brown  
               expressing concern over establishing a new reimbursable  
               state mandate.

             b)   AB 84 (Hill) of 2009, another similar bill, was vetoed  
               by Governor Schwarzenegger over concerns about adding a  
               cost burden to counties.  A substantially similar bill, AB  
               2964 (Levine) of 2008, was one of numerous bills summarily  
               vetoed by the governor without a stated objection.

             c)   AB 2616 (Hill) of 2010, which would have allowed VBM  
               voters to check their status on the Secretary of State's  
               website upon implementation of the statewide voter  
               registration database, was vetoed over cost concerns.

             d)   SB 1725 (Bowen)/Chapter 687 of 2006, requires election  
               officials to establish procedures to track and confirm the  
               receipt of VBM ballots and to make this information  
               available by means of online access using the county's  
               elections division web site, or if none is available, by  








                                                                  SB 589
                                                                  Page  3

               means of a toll-free telephone number.

             e)   SB 613 (Perata)/Chapter 613 of 2003, in part required  
               establishment of a free access system allowing a voter  
               casting a provisional ballot to confirm whether the ballot  
               was counted and, if not, the reason it was not counted.

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Chuck Nicol / APPR. / (916) 319-2081