Amended in Assembly April 27, 2015

Amended in Assembly April 8, 2015

California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 44


Introduced by Assembly Member Mullin

(Coauthors: Assembly Members Bonta and Gonzalez )

(Coauthor: Senator Anderson)

December 1, 2014


An act to amend Sections 15370, 15601, 15620, 15621, 15626, 15627,begin insert andend insert 15632,begin delete and 19203end delete of, to addbegin delete Sectionend deletebegin insert Sectionsend insert 15621.5begin insert and 19204.5end insert to, and to add and repeal Article 5 (commencing with Section 15645) to Chapter 9 of Division 15 of, the Elections Code, relating to elections.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 44, as amended, Mullin. Elections: statewide recounts.

(1) Existing law prohibits a county elections official from opening a ballot after it is counted and sealed, except in certain circumstances, including a recount.

This bill would require a county elections official to store sealed ballots in a manner facilitating the retrieval of any particular ballot in that event.

(2) Existing law requires the Secretary of State to adopt regulations relating to the use of voting systems in recounting ballots.

This bill would also require the Secretary of State to adopt regulations relating to the charges a county elections official may impose when conducting a manual recount.

(3) Existing law establishes procedures by which a voter may request a recount of the votes cast in an election following completion of the official canvass. Existing law requires a voter to make this request within 5 days beginning on the 29th day after the election.

This bill would instead permit a voter to file a request for a recount within 5 days beginning on the 30th day after the election.

(4) Any time during the conduct of a recount and for 24 hours thereafter, existing law permits any other voter to request a recount of any precincts in an election for the same office, slate of presidential electors, or measure not recounted as a result of the original request. Existing law also provides that, where applicable, a voter requesting a recount may select whether the recount shall be conducted manually, or by means of the voting system used originally, or both.

This bill would instead require a voter to select whether the recount is to be conducted manually, or by means of the voting system used originally, but not both. This bill would also specify that if more than one voter requests a recount of the same office, slate of presidential electors, or measure, and at least one request is for a manual recount, then the county elections official of any county subject to multiple requests is only obligated to conduct one manual recount of the ballots subject to the request, and that those results will control.

(5) Under existing law, the voter seeking a recount is required, before the recount is commenced and at the beginning of each subsequent day, to deposit with the elections official the amount of money required by the elections official to cover the cost of the recount for that day.

This bill would permit a voter to request a state-funded manual recount of all votes cast for a statewide office, the office of President of the United States, or a state ballot measure if the difference in the number of votes received is less than or equal to the lesser of 1000 votes or 0.015%, as specified. This bill would also require a county elections official to review rejected ballots as part of a state-funded recount. This bill would repeal the provisions relating to state-funded recounts as of January 1, 2023.

(6) Under existing law, upon completion of a recount showing that a different candidate was nominated or elected, that a different presidential slate of electors received a plurality of the votes, or that a measure was defeated instead of approved or approved instead of defeated, the result of the recount in each affected precinct is entered and is thereafter considered the official return of the affected precincts. Existing law provides that if an office, slates of presidential electors, or measure is voted on statewide, the results of any recount are null and void unless each vote cast for the office, slates, or measure in any county specified in the request for recount is recounted.

This bill would instead provide that if an office, slates of presidential electors, or measure is voted on statewide, the results of any recount are null and void unless each vote cast statewide for the office, slates, or measure is recounted.

(7) Existing law requires the Secretary of State to certify or conditionally approve a voting system prior to any election at which it is to be used, as specified. Existing law prohibits the Secretary of State from certifying or conditionally approving a voting system or part of a voting system thatbegin delete uses paper ballots if the paper cannot maintain its integrity and readability throughout the retention period.end deletebegin insert does not have certain technical capabilities.end insert

This bill would also prohibit the Secretary of State from certifying or conditionally approving a voting system that cannot facilitate the conduct of a ballot level comparison risk-limiting auditbegin insert; however, it would expressly permit the Secretary of State to approve a proposed change or modification to a noncompliant voting system even if the voting system would be unable to facilitate the conduct of a ballot level comparison risk-limiting auditend insertbegin insert after the change or modificationend insert.

By imposing new duties on local elections officials, this 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:

P3    1

SECTION 1.  

Section 15370 of the Elections Code is amended
2to read:

3

15370.  

(a) After ballots are counted and sealed, the elections
4official may not open any ballots nor permit any ballots to be
5opened except as permitted in Sections 15303 and 15304, or in the
6event of a recount.

P4    1(b) The county elections official shall store sealed ballots in a
2manner facilitating the retrieval of any particular ballot in the event
3of a recount.

4

SEC. 2.  

Section 15601 of the Elections Code is amended to
5read:

6

15601.  

(a) The Secretary of State, within the Secretary of
7State’s existing budget, shall adopt regulations no later than January
81, 2008, for each voting system approved for use in the state and
9specify the procedures for recounting ballots, including vote by
10mail and provisional ballots, using those voting systems.

11(b) The Secretary of State shall adopt regulations, no later than
12January 1, 2018, establishing uniform guidelines for charges a
13county elections official may impose when conducting a manual
14recount pursuant to this chapter.

15

SEC. 3.  

Section 15620 of the Elections Code is amended to
16read:

17

15620.  

(a) Following completion of the official canvass and
18again following completion of any postcanvass risk-limiting audit
19conducted pursuant to Section 15560, any voter may, within five
20days thereafter, file with the elections official responsible for
21conducting an election in the county wherein the recount is sought
22a written request for a recount of the votes cast for candidates for
23any office, for slates of presidential electors, or for or against any
24measure, provided the office, slate, or measure is not voted on
25statewide. The request shall specify on behalf of which candidate,
26slate of electors, or position on a measure (affirmative or negative)
27it is filed.

28(b) If an election is conducted in more than one county, the
29request for the recount may be filed by any voter within five days,
30beginning on the 30th day after the election, with the elections
31official of, and the recount may be conducted within, any or all of
32the affected counties.

33(c) For the purposes of this section, “completion of the canvass”
34shall be presumed to be that time when the elections official signs
35the certified statement of the results of the election except that, in
36the case of a city election, if a city council canvasses the returns
37itself and does not order the elections official to conduct the
38canvass, “completion of the canvass” shall be presumed to be that
39time when the governing body declares the persons elected or the
40measures approved or defeated.

P5    1

SEC. 4.  

Section 15621 of the Elections Code is amended to
2read:

3

15621.  

(a) Following completion of the official canvass any
4voter may, within five days beginning on the 30th day after a
5statewide election, file with the Secretary of State a written request
6for a recount of the votes cast for candidates for any statewide
7office or for or against any measure voted on statewide.
8Additionally, any voter may file with the Secretary of State a
9written request for a recount of the votes cast for candidates for
10any statewide office or for or against any measure voted on
11statewide within five days following completion of any postcanvass
12risk-limiting audit conducted pursuant to Section 15560. A request
13filed pursuant to this section shall specify in which county or
14counties the recount is sought and shall specify on behalf of which
15candidate, slate of electors, or position on a measure (affirmative
16or negative) it is filed.

17(b) The Secretary of State shall forthwith send by registered
18mail one copy of the request to the elections official of each county
19in which a recount of the votes is sought.

20(c) All the other provisions of this article shall apply to recounts
21conducted under this section.

22

SEC. 5.  

Section 15621.5 is added to the Elections Code, to
23read:

24

15621.5.  

If more than one voter requests a recount of the same
25office, slate of presidential electors, or measure pursuant to Section
2615620 or 15621, and at least one request is for a manual recount,
27the county elections official of a county subject to multiple requests
28as described in this section shall conduct only one manual recount
29of the ballots subject to recount, the result of which shall be
30controlling.

31

SEC. 6.  

Section 15626 of the Elections Code is amended to
32read:

33

15626.  

The recount shall be commenced not more than seven
34days following the receipt by the elections official of the request
35or order for the recount under Section 15620, 15621, or 15645 and
36shall be continued daily, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays
37excepted, for not less than six hours each day until completed. The
38recount shall not be commenced until the first day following
39notification of the individuals specified in Section 15628.

P6    1

SEC. 7.  

Section 15627 of the Elections Code is amended to
2read:

3

15627.  

(a) If in the election that is to be recounted the votes
4were recorded by means of a punchcard voting system or by
5electronic or electromechanical vote tabulating devices, the voter
6who files the declaration requesting the recount shall select whether
7the recount shall be conducted manually, or by means of the voting
8system used originally.

9(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), a county may recount vote
10by mail and provisional ballots in a manner other than that
11requested by the voter.

12(c) For purposes of direct recording electronic voting systems,
13“conducted manually” means that either the paper record copies
14or the voter verified paper audit trail of the electronically recorded
15vote are counted manually, as selected by the voter who requests
16the recount.

17

SEC. 8.  

Section 15632 of the Elections Code is amended to
18read:

19

15632.  

In lieu of the returns as reported in the official canvass,
20upon completion of the recount showing that a different candidate
21was nominated or elected, that a different presidential slate of
22electors received a plurality of the votes, or that a measure was
23defeated instead of approved or approved instead of defeated, there
24shall be entered the result of the recount in each precinct affected,
25which result shall, for all purposes thereafter, be the official returns
26of those precincts for the office, slates of presidential electors, or
27measure involved in the recount. If the office, slates of presidential
28electors, or measure are not voted on statewide, the results of any
29recount which is not completed by counting the votes in each and
30every precinct in the jurisdiction within which votes were cast on
31the candidates for the office, on the slates of electors, or on the
32measure in question shall be declared null and void. If the office,
33slates of presidential electors, or measure are voted on statewide,
34the results of any recount will be declared null and void where
35there is not recounted each vote cast statewide for the office, slates,
36or measure.

37

SEC. 9.  

Article 5 (commencing with Section 15645) is added
38to Chapter 9 of Division 15 of the Elections Code, to read:

 

P7    1Article 5.  State-funded Recounts
2

 

3

15645.  

(a) (1) Within five days after the Secretary of State
4files a statement of the vote, as required by subdivision (b) of
5Section 15501, any voter may request a state-funded manual
6recount of all votes cast for a statewide office or state ballot
7measure if any of the following occurs:

8(A) The official canvass of returns in a statewide primary
9election shows that the difference in the number of votes received
10by the second and third place candidates for a statewide office is
11less than or equal to the lesser of 1000 votes orbegin delete one-and-a-half of
121end delete
begin insert 0.015end insert percent of the number of all votes cast for that office except
13as provided in paragraph (2).

14(B) The official canvass of returns in a statewide general election
15shows that the difference in the number of votes received by the
16two candidates receiving the greatest number of votes for a
17statewide office is less than or equal to the lesser of 1000 voters
18orbegin delete one-and-a-half of 1end deletebegin insert 0.015end insert percent of the number of all votes
19cast for that office.

20(C) The official canvass of returns in a statewide election shows
21that the difference in the number of votes cast for and against a
22state ballot measure is less than or equal to the lesser of 1000 votes
23or begin delete one-and-a-half of 1end delete begin insert 0.015end insert percent of the number of all votes
24cast on the measure.

25(2) A voter shall not request a state-funded manual recount of
26all votes cast for the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
27pursuant to this section if the official canvass of returns in a
28statewide primary election shows that a candidate received a
29majority of all votes cast.

30(3) For purposes of this subdivision, “statewide office” means
31the office of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General,
32Controller, Insurance Commissioner, Secretary of State,
33Superintendent of Public Instruction, Treasurer, or Member of the
34United States Senate.

35(b) Within five days after the Secretary of State files a statement
36of the vote, as required by subdivision (b) of Section 15501, any
37voter may request a state-funded manual recount of all votes cast
38for the office of President of the United States ifbegin delete either of the
39following occurs:end delete
begin insert the official canvass of returns in a statewide
40general election shows that the difference in the number of votes
P8    1received by the two candidates receiving the greatest number of
2votes for the office of President is less than or equal to the lesser
3of 1000 votes or 0.015 percent of the number of all votes cast for
4the office of President.end insert

begin delete

5(1) The official canvass of returns in a statewide presidential
6primary election for a political party that received the greatest or
7second-greatest number of votes in that presidential primary
8election shows that the difference in the number of votes received
9by the first and second place candidates for the nomination of that
10party for the office of President is less than or equal to the lesser
11of 1000 votes or one-and-a-half of of 1 percent of the number of
12all votes cast for the office of President.

13(2) The official canvass of returns in a statewide general election
14shows that the difference in the number of votes received by the
15two candidates receiving the greatest number of votes for the office
16of President is less than or equal to the lesser of 1000 votes or
17one-and-a-half of 1 percent of the number of all votes cast for the
18office of President.

end delete

19(c) If a state-funded recount is conducted pursuant to this
20section, no other recount shall be conducted.

21(d) The State shall reimburse counties for costs resulting from
22conducting a manual recount pursuant to this section in an
23expeditious manner upon certification of those costs.

24

15646.  

(a) Upon ordering a recount pursuant to subdivision
25(a) or (b) of Section 15645, the Secretary of State shall notify the
26elections official of each county and shall direct the county
27elections officials to recount all the votes cast for the office or for
28and against the state ballot measure.

29(b) (1) While conducting a recount pursuant to Section 15645,
30a county elections official shall also review ballots rejected
31pursuant to Section 15154 to ensure that no ballots were improperly
32discarded during the initial canvass.

33(2) The process of reviewing rejected ballots pursuant to
34subdivision (a) shall be open to members of the public, including
35persons associated with a campaign or measure.

36(c)  The elections official in each county shall complete a
37recount pursuant to this section as follows:

38(1) In a primary election, by three business days before the
39ballot-printing deadline.

P9    1(2) In a general election, within 60 days of the voter’s request
2for a recount.

3

15647.  

All the provisions of Article 3 (commencing with
4Section 15620), except Sections 15620, 15621, 15622, 15623,
515624, and 15627, shall apply to this article unless otherwise
6provided herein.

7

15648.  

The Secretary of State may adopt, amend, and repeal
8rules and regulations necessary for the administration of this article.

9

15649.  

This article shall remain in effect only until January 1,
102023, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute,
11that is enacted before January 1, 2023, deletes or extends that date.

begin delete12

SEC. 10.  

Section 19203 of the Elections Code is amended to
13read:

14

19203.  

The Secretary of State shall not certify or conditionally
15approve either of the following:

16(a) A voting system or a part of a voting system that uses paper
17ballots unless the paper used for the ballots is of sufficient quality
18that it maintains its integrity and readability throughout the
19retention period specified in Chapter 4 (commencing with Section
2017300) of Division 17.

21(b) A voting system that cannot facilitate the conduct of a ballot
22level comparison risk-limiting audit.

end delete
23begin insert

begin insertSEC. 10.end insert  

end insert

begin insertSection 19204.5 is added to the end insertbegin insertElections Codeend insertbegin insert, to
24read:end insert

begin insert
25

begin insert19204.5.end insert  

(a) The Secretary of State shall not certify or
26conditionally approve a voting system that cannot facilitate the
27conduct of a ballot level comparison risk-limiting audit.

28(b) (1) For purposes of this subdivision, a voting system that
29is “noncompliant” is a voting system that cannot facilitate the
30conduct of a ballot level comparison risk-limiting audit.

31(2) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the Secretary of State may
32approve a proposed change or modification to a noncompliant
33voting system even if the voting system will remain noncompliant
34after the change or modification.

end insert
35

SEC. 11.  

If the Commission on State Mandates determines
36that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement
37to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made
P10   1pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division
24 of Title 2 of the Government Code.



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