BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 562


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          Date of Hearing:   May 13, 2015


                  ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON ELECTIONS AND REDISTRICTING


                           Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, Chair


          AB 562  
          (Holden) - As Amended May 6, 2015


          SUBJECT:  Elections:  ballots.


          SUMMARY:  Requires the office of the Superintendent of Public  
          Instruction (SPI) to be listed on the ballot under the heading  
          of STATEWIDE EDUCATION.  Requires the office of SPI to appear on  
          the ballot immediately after the races for state Assembly.   
          Makes other technical changes. 


          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)Requires every ballot to contain the following:


             a)   The title of each office, arranged to conform as nearly  
               as practical in accordance with existing law;


             b)   The names of all qualified candidates, as specified;  
               and, 


             c)   The titles and summaries of measures submitted to a vote  
               of the voters.








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          2)Requires the offices on the ballot to be listed in the order  
            detailed below, beginning in the column to the left:


             a)   Under the heading, PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT (at a  
               Presidential general election): Nominees of the qualified  
               political parties and independent nominees for President  
               and Vice President.


             b)   Under the heading, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (at a  
               Presidential primary election):  Names of the presidential  
               candidates to whom the delegates are pledged and names of  
               the chairpersons of unpledged delegations. 


             c)   Under the heading STATE:


               i)     Governor;


               ii)    Lieutenant Governor;


               iii)   Secretary of State;


               iv)    Controller;


               v)     Treasurer;


               vi)    Attorney General;










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               vii)    Insurance Commissioner; and, 


               viii)  Member, State Board of Equalization.


            (d) Under the heading, UNITED STATES SENATOR:  Candidates or  
            nominees to the United States Senate.

            (e) Under the heading, UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE:   
            Candidates or nominees to the House of Representatives of the  
            United States.

            (f) Under the heading, STATE SENATOR:  Candidates or nominees  
            to the State Senate.

            (g) Under the heading, MEMBER OF THE STATE ASSEMBLY:   
            Candidates or nominees to the Assembly.

            (h) Under the heading, COUNTY COMMITTEE:  Members of the  
            County Central Committee.

            (i) Under the heading, JUDICIAL:

              (1) Chief Justice of California;

              (2) Associate Justice of the Supreme Court;

              (3) Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal;

              (4) Associate Justice, Court of Appeal;

              (5) Judge of the Superior Court; and,

              (6) Marshal.

            (j) Under the heading, SCHOOL:

              (1) SPI;








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              (2) County Superintendent of Schools;

              (3) County Board of Education Members;

              (4) College District Governing Board Members;

              (5) Unified District Governing Board Members;

              (6) High School District Governing Board Members; and,

              (7) Elementary District Governing Board Members.

            (k) Under the heading, COUNTY:

              (1) County Supervisor; and,

              (2) Other offices in alphabetical order by the title of the  
            office.
            (l) Under the heading, CITY:

              (1) Mayor;

              (2) Member, City Council; and, 

              (3) Other offices in alphabetical order by the title of the  
            office.

            (m) Under the heading, DISTRICT:  Directors or trustees for  
            each district in alphabetical order according to the name of  
            the district.

            (n) Under the heading, MEASURES SUBMITTED TO THE VOTERS,  
            ballot measures beginning with state measures.   

          3)Permits county elections officials to vary the order of  
            school, county, city, and district offices and measures in  
            order to allow for the most efficient use of space on the  
            ballot provided that the office of SPI always precedes any  








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            school, county, or city office and state measures always  
            precede local measures.  


          FISCAL EFFECT:  None.  This bill is keyed non-fiscal by the  
          Legislative Counsel.


          COMMENTS:  


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


               Studies show that most voters do not make it to the bottom  
               of a ballot, therefore preventing them from fully  
               participating in the election process.  The Superintendent  
               of Public Instruction is the only statewide elected officer  
               that does not appear at the top of the ballot and, as a  
               result, may not receive the entirety of votes cast.   
               Assembly Bill 562 makes a technical change to place the  
               Superintendent of Public Instruction at the top of the  
               ballot alongside other statewide elected officers in order  
               to ensure that voters have the opportunity to select their  
               candidate.


          2)Ballot Content and Form: Current law requires a ballot to  
            comply with a variety of laws that dictate its form and  
            content.  For example, existing law requires a ballot to  
            contain the title of each office, the names of all qualified  
            candidates, as specified, ballot designations, as specified,  
            titles and summaries of measures submitted to voters, and  
            instructions to voters, among other things.  In addition,  
            current law requires a ballot to follow certain formatting  
            requirements, such as the order offices must appear on the  
            ballot and font size.  While existing law does allow for some  
            flexibility in ballot format, such as allowing a county  
            elections official to make ballot formatting changes to  








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            accommodate the limitations of a voting system or vote  
            tabulating device, as specified, most requirements are fairly  
            specific.  

          As described above, current law requires the office of SPI to be  
            listed under the heading SCHOOL, which is listed after  
            candidates for President and Vice President, candidates for  
            statewide offices (such as Governor, Lieutenant Governor,  
            Secretary of State, etc.), candidates for United States  
            Senator and Representative, candidates for state Senate and  
            Assembly, candidates for county central committees, and  
            finally judicial candidates.   As a result, the office of SPI  
            is found further down the ballot usually on the second page.   
            According to the author' statement, the office of SPI should  
            be moved to the top of the ballot alongside other statewide  
            elected officers in order to ensure that voters have the  
            opportunity to select their candidate.  This bill makes  
            technical changes to the placement of the office of SPI on the  
            ballot.  Specifically, this bill requires the office of the  
            SPI to be moved up on the ballot and be listed after  
            candidates for the state Assembly under the new heading of  
            STATEWIDE EDUCATION.  

          3)Ballot Placement:  Many studies discuss the phenomenon of  
            "voter fatigue" or "ballot drop-off" in which the number of  
            votes cast per office drops consistently as a voter moves down  
            the ballot. For instance, the number of votes cast for  
            president is almost always much greater than the number of  
            votes cast for many candidates for lower statewide elected  
            office (such as lieutenant governor, attorney general,  
            secretary of state, etc.) or other local offices (such as  
            state legislators, city councilors, etc.).  Other studies  
            discuss the advantage of ballot placement content and contend  
            that there is an advantage to being listed first on the ballot  
            and that offices in the middle and the bottom of the ballot  
            tend to receive less attention.  According to a news media  
            article provided by the author's office, approximately 6.7  
            million ballots were cast in the November 4, 2014 general  
            election, and only 5.4 million of them included a vote for  








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            either of the two candidates running for the office of SPI.


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          None on file.




          Opposition


          None on file.




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