BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                             Senator Ricardo Lara, Chair
                            2015 - 2016  Regular  Session

          AB 363 (Steinorth) - Closing of the polls
          
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          |Version: August 17, 2015        |Policy Vote: E. & C.A. 4 - 0    |
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          |Urgency: No                     |Mandate: No                     |
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          |Hearing Date: August 17, 2015   |Consultant: Robert Ingenito     |
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          This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File.




          


          Bill  
          Summary: AB 363 would authorize county elections officials, on  
          Election Day, to begin accounting and processing polling place  
          ballots during the day, by delivery to a receiving center or  
          central counting place, instead of waiting until the closing of  
          the polls, as specified.


          Fiscal  
          Impact:  The Secretary of State's Office (SOS) indicates that it  
          would incur a one-time General Fund cost of $55,000 to  
          promulgate regulations resulting from the bill.


          Background: Once the polls close, current law requires members of the  







          AB 363 (Steinorth)                                     Page 1 of  
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          precinct board to account for ballots delivered to them, a  
          process is commonly known as ballot reconciliation.  Existing  
          law prohibits (1) a ballot container from being opened until  
          after the polls are closed, and (2) the removal of a ballot  
          container from a polling place until all ballots are counted.   
          Once reconciliation is completed, ballot containers are allowed  
          to be delivered to their assigned receiving center or central  
          counting location for processing.


          Proposed Law:  
          This bill would, among other things, do all of the following: 
                 Authorize a precinct board, when accounting for ballots  
               to either (1) account for them at a polling place, or (2)  
               have the accounting be done by the elections official at a  
               central counting place.


                 Permit a county elections official, before or at the  
               close of the polls, to direct a precinct board to seal the  
               ballot container and record on forms prescribed by the  
               elections official the information needed for the  
               reconciliation of ballots, as specified. 


                 Permit a county elections official (1) to direct a  
               precinct board to seal the ballot container prior to the  
               closing of the polls in accordance with existing law, and  
               (2) as soon as the container is sealed, to direct at least  
               two elections officials to remove the sealed ballot  
               container of voted, untallied ballots from the polling  
               place, as specified. 


                 Require the elections officials to notify the public 48  
               hours before Election Day of the dates, times and places  
               where ballot containers will be delivered.


                 Allow a county elections official, upon receipt of a  
               container at a receiving center or central counting place,  
               to process the voted untallied ballots, but prohibit the  
               tally of ballots or release of any results prior to the  
               closing of the polls. 








          AB 363 (Steinorth)                                     Page 2 of  
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                 Require SOS to adopt regulations addressing the secure  
               delivery and transfer of ballots to a receiving center or  
               central counting place.







          Staff  
          Comments: As noted above, this bill would (1) permit the ballot  
          reconciliation process to begin before the polls close, and (2)  
          allow ballot containers to be transported to a receiving center  
          or central counting place for ballot reconciliation and  
          processing before the polls close. For counties with larger land  
          area, this proposal would likely provide for more timely  
          election results and increase overall efficiency. 
          SOS would incur a cost of $55,000 to adopt regulations  
          addressing the secure delivery and transfer of ballots pursuant  
          to the bill's proposal.  




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