BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 363


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          CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENTS


          AB  
          363 (Steinorth)


          As Amended  August 17, 2015


          Majority vote


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          |ASSEMBLY:  |78-0  |(June 2, 2015) |SENATE: |40-0  |(September 2,    |
          |           |      |               |        |      |2015)            |
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          Original Committee Reference:  E. & R.


          SUMMARY:  Authorizes county elections officials, on election  
          day, to begin accounting and processing polling place ballots  
          during the day, instead of waiting until the closing of the  
          polls, as specified.  Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Authorizes a precinct board, when accounting for ballots at  
            the closing of the polls, as specified, to either account for  
            the ballots at a polling place or to be performed by the  
            elections official at a central counting place, instead of  
            only allowing a precinct board to account for ballots at a  
            polling place.


          2)Permits a county elections official, before the closing of the  
            polls instead of 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  








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            needed for the reconciliation of ballots, as specified. 


          3)Allows a county elections official to direct a precinct board  
            to seal the ballot container prior to the closing of the polls  
            in accordance with existing law.  Permits a county elections  
            official, 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  
            and, in the presence of any bystanders, to deliver the  
            container to a receiving center or central counting place as  
            directed.  Allows a county elections official, upon receipt of  
            a container at a receiving center or central counting place,  
            to process the voted untallied ballots.  Prohibits the tally  
            of ballots or release of any results prior to the closing of  
            the polls.  


          4)Requires the elections officials to notify the public 48 hours  
            before election day of the dates, times and places where  
            ballot containers will be delivered.


          5)Requires the Secretary of State (SOS) to adopt regulations  
            addressing the secure delivery and transfer of ballots to a  
            receiving center or central counting place.


          6)Makes other technical changes.  


          The Senate amendments make non-substantive technical changes. 


          AS PASSED BY THE ASSEMBLY, this bill was substantially similar  
          to the version approved by the Senate.


          FISCAL EFFECT:  According to the Senate Appropriations  
          Committee, the SOS indicates that it would incur a one-time  
          General Fund cost of $55,000 to promulgate regulations resulting  
          from this bill.








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          COMMENTS:  According to the author, "AB 363 will improve  
          election efficiency by allowing for ballots to be picked up from  
          Election Day polling places and processed at a central counting  
          location before the polls are closed.  In doing so, election  
          results will be reported much sooner on election night, and  
          counties will save taxpayer dollars by reducing overtime costs.   
          Further, this bill will give election officials the option to  
          modify current ballot reconciliation procedures in an attempt to  
          make them more effective and secure.


          "Existing law allows for [vote by mail] ballots which have been  
          dropped off at polling places to be transported prior to the  
          close of polls, but inconsistently, the law does not allow for  
          early pick-up of ballots which had been cast at the polling  
          place.  Allowing for early pick-up of all ballots will make a  
          critical difference in geographically expansive counties, within  
          which it may take hours to transport ballots from a remote  
          polling location to the counting location."


          Existing law establishes procedures for processing ballots  
          following the closing of the polls on election day.   
          Specifically, once the polls close, current law requires members  
          of the precinct board to account for ballots delivered to them  
          whether voted, unused, spoiled, or canceled.  This process is  
          commonly known as ballot reconciliation.  Existing law prohibits  
          a ballot container from being opened until after the polls are  
          closed and further prohibits 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.  


          This bill authorizes county elections officials to use an  
          additional reconciliation procedure.  First, this bill permits  
          the ballot reconciliation process to begin before the polls  
          close, instead of after the polls close.  Second, this bill  
          allows ballot containers to be transported to a receiving center  








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          or central counting place for ballot reconciliation and  
          processing before the polls close.  These are significant  
          departures from current practice which prohibits the removal of  
          a ballot container from a polling place until all ballots are  
          counted and further prohibits a ballot container from being  
          opened until after the polls are closed.  According to the  
          author and the proponents of this bill, this new procedure is a  
          much needed option for county elections officials, especially  
          those counties that are geographically expansive.  Proponents  
          contend that the new ballot reconciliation process outlined in  
          this bill will expedite ballot processing by allowing ballots to  
          be processed and transported to counting locations prior to the  
          closing of the polls as well as provide for more timely results,  
          reduce election administrative costs, and increase overall  
          election efficiency.


          The Senate amendments make non-substantive technical changes.   
          This bill, as amended in the Senate, is consistent with Assembly  
          actions.  


          Analysis Prepared by:                                             
                          Nichole Becker / E. & R. / (916) 319-2094  FN:  
          0001681