BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON
          ELECTIONS AND CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
                              Senator Ben Allen, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:             AB 1443        Hearing Date:    6/30/15    
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          |Author:    |Chau                                                 |
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          |Version:   |6/23/15                                              |
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          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
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          |Consultant:|Darren Chesin                                        |
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                      Subject:  Voters: language accessibility.

           DIGEST
           
          Requires the Secretary of State (SOS) to establish a Language  
          Accessibility Advisory Committee, as specified.

           ANALYSIS
           
          Existing federal law: 

          1)Requires a state or a political subdivision of a state to  
            provide voting materials in the language of a minority group  
            when that group within the jurisdiction has an illiteracy rate  
            that is higher than the national illiteracy rate, and the  
            number of the United States citizens of voting age in that  
            single language group within the jurisdiction meets at least  
            one of the following:


             a)   Numbers more than 10,000; 


             b)   Makes up more than five percent of all voting age  
               citizens; or, 


             c)   On an Indian reservation, exceeds five percent of all  
               reservation residents. 








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          2)Requires a state or political subdivision of a state to  
            provide voting materials in the language of a minority group  
            if all of the following apply: 


             a)   Over five percent of the voting age citizens were, on  
               November 1, 1972, members of a single language minority  
               group; 


             b)   Registration and election materials were provided only  
               in English on November 1, 1972; and, 


             c)   Fewer than 50 percent of the voting age citizens were  
               registered to vote or voted in the 1972 Presidential  
               election. 

          3)Defines language minorities or language minority groups, for  
            the purposes of the above provisions, to mean persons who are  
            American Indian, Asian American, Alaskan Natives, or of  
            Spanish heritage. 



          Existing state law: 

          1)Establishes the SOS as the chief elections officer of the  
            state and requires that he or she ensure elections are  
            efficiently conducted and that state election laws are  
            enforced. 

          2)Declares the intent of the Legislature that  
            non-English-speaking citizens, like other citizens, should be  
            encouraged to vote and that appropriate efforts should be made  
            to minimize obstacles to voting by citizens who lack  
            sufficient skill in English to vote without assistance. 

          3)Requires the SOS, by January 1 of each year in which the  
            Governor is elected, to determine the precincts where three  
            percent or more of the voting age residents are members of a  
            single language minority and lack sufficient skills in English  
            to vote without assistance.  For each specified precinct in  
            their county, elections officials are required to do the  








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            following: 


             a)   Translate a facsimile ballot and related instructions in  
               the specified language(s); and, 


             b)   Post the translation(s) in a conspicuous location in the  
               appropriate polling place. 

          4)Requires elections officials to make reasonable efforts to  
            recruit election officials who are fluent in a language if  
            three percent or more of the voting age residents in any  
            precinct are fluent in that language and lack sufficient skill  
            in English to vote without assistance. 

          5)Requires, in counties where the SOS has determined it is  
            appropriate, each precinct board to post, in a conspicuous  
            location in the polling place, at least one copy of the ballot  
            with ballot measures and ballot instructions printed in  
            Spanish. Requires the ballot to be posted in other languages  
            if a significant and substantial need is found by the SOS. 

          6)Provides that in determining whether it is appropriate to  
            require a county to post a copy of the ballot at the precinct  
            in a language other than English, the SOS shall find a need to  
            post such translated copies of the ballot if the number of  
            residents of voting age in the precinct who are members of a  
            single language minority and who lack sufficient skills in  
            English to vote without assistance equals three percent or  
            more of the voting age residents in the precinct. 

          This bill:

          1)Requires the SOS to establish a Language Accessibility  
            Advisory Committee of no less than 15 members consisting of  
            the SOS and his or her designee or designees and additional  
            members appointed by the SOS.

          2)Requires the appointees to either have demonstrated language  
            accessibility experience for languages covered under the  
            federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10101 et  
            seq.) or be a county elections official.  At least three  
            county elections officials shall be appointed to the  








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            committee.
          3)Requires the SOS to consult with and consider the  
            recommendations of the committee. 

          4)Requires the committee to serve in an advisory capacity to the  
            SOS and to meet no less than four times each calendar year. 

           BACKGROUND
           
           Voting Rights Act of 1965 .  The 15th Amendment to the United  
          States Constitution provides, in part, "[t]he right of citizens  
          of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by  
          the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or  
          previous condition of servitude."  Additionally, the 15th  
          Amendment authorizes Congress to enact legislation to enforce  
          its provisions. 

          Congress determined that the existing federal  
          anti-discrimination laws were not sufficient to overcome the  
          resistance by state officials to enforce the 15th Amendment. As  
          a result, Congress passed and President Johnson signed the  
          Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA).  The VRA provides, among other  
          provisions, that "[n]o voting qualification or prerequisite to  
          voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or  
          applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge  
          that right of any citizen of the United States to vote on  
          account of race or color." 

          In 1975, Congress adopted the language minority provisions of  
          Sections 4(f)(4) and 203 of the VRA. Congress extended these  
          provisions in 1982, 1992, and 2006. Sections 4(f)(4) and 203 of  
          the VRA require certain jurisdictions with significant  
          populations of voting age citizens who belong to a language  
          minority community to provide voting materials in a language  
          other than English.  

          These determinations are based on data from the most recent  
          Census.  Specifically, Sections 203 and 4(f)(4) require that  
          when a covered state or political subdivision "[p]rovides  
          registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance,  
          or other materials or information relating to the electoral  
          process, including ballots, it shall provide them in the  
          language of the applicable minority group as well as in the  
          English language."








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           New Census Data  .  On October 13, 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau  
          released a notice of determination of minority language status  
          following the 2010 census.  Pursuant to Section 203, the State  
          of California is required to provide bilingual voting assistance  
          to Spanish speakers.  Additionally, pursuant to Section 203, 27  
          of California's 58 counties are individually required to provide  
          bilingual voting assistance to Spanish speakers, and eight  
          counties (Alameda, Los Angeles, Orange, Sacramento, San Diego,  
          San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara) are required to  
          provide voting materials in at least one language other than  
          English and Spanish.  In total, 28 of California's 58 counties  
          are required to provide voting materials in at least one  
          language other than English. 

          In addition, existing state law requires the SOS, in each  
          gubernatorial election year, to determine the precincts where  
          three percent or more of the voting age residents are members of  
          a single language minority and lack sufficient skills in English  
          to vote without assistance.  According to a December 30, 2013  
          memo from the SOS's office, the SOS contracted with U.C.  
          Berkeley to determine which precincts have reached the three  
          percent threshold in the nine languages covered in California  
          under federal law (Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer,  
          Korean, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese). 

          According to the memo, based on the analysis data, the SOS has  
          determined that most counties show an increase in the number of  
          precincts with individuals who speak the nine languages that are  
          covered.  Depending on the data, the county elections officials  
          will be required to translate a copy of the ballot and related  
          instructions into the languages indicated and post them at the  
          appropriate polling places. 

          Below is a breakdown of the counties that have additional  
          languages required under state law (new languages are indicated  
          in bold).  According to the SOS's memo, these requirements will  
          remain in place through December 31, 2017.  

          Statewide: Spanish 
          Alameda: Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Hindi, Japanese,  
          Khmer, Korean 
          Alpine: None 
          Amador: Spanish 








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          Butte: Spanish 
          Calaveras: Spanish 
          Colusa: Spanish 
          Contra Costa: Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Japanese, Korean,  
          Vietnamese 
          Del Norte: Spanish 
          El Dorado: Spanish, Tagalog 
          Fresno: Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Khmer 
          Glenn: Spanish 
          Humboldt: Spanish 
          Imperial: Spanish 
          Inyo: Spanish 
          Kern: Spanish, Tagalog 
          Kings: Spanish, Tagalog 
          Lake: Spanish 
          Lassen: Spanish
          Los Angeles: Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean,  
          Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese 
          Madera: Spanish 
          Marin: Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese 
          Mariposa: Spanish 
          Mendocino: Spanish, Chinese 
          Merced: Spanish 
          Modoc: Spanish 
          Mono: Spanish 
          Monterey: Spanish, Korean, Tagalog, Chinese, Vietnamese 
          Napa: Spanish, Tagalog, Chinese 
          Nevada: Spanish 
          Orange: Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese,  
          Khmer 
          Placer: Spanish, Tagalog 
          Plumas: Spanish 
          Riverside: Spanish, Tagalog, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese 
          Sacramento: Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Hindi,  
          Japanese, Korean 
          San Benito: Spanish 
          San Bernardino: Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Khmer 
          San Diego: Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Tagalog,  
          Vietnamese, Khmer, 
            Korean, Hindi
          San Francisco: Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese,  
          Japanese 
          San Joaquin: Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Khmer, Hindi  
          








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          San Luis Obispo: Spanish, Tagalog 
          San Mateo: Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Tagalog, Hindi 
          Santa Barbara: Spanish, Tagalog, Chinese 
          Santa Clara: Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog,  
          Vietnamese, Hindi, 
            Khmer 
          Santa Cruz: Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog 
          Shasta: Spanish 
          Sierra: Spanish 
          Siskiyou: Spanish 
          Solano: Spanish, Tagalog, Chinese 
          Sonoma: Spanish 
          Stanislaus: Spanish, Hindi, Khmer 
          Sutter: Spanish, Hindi 
          Tehama: Spanish 
          Trinity: Spanish 
          Tulare: Spanish, Tagalog 
          Tuolumne: Spanish 
          Ventura: Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Hindi 
          Yolo: Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Hindi 
          Yuba: Spanish 

           COMMENTS
           
           1)According to the author  :  Nearly 16 million California voters  
            receive materials in a variety of required primary languages  
            such as Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean,  
            Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.  Language accessible elections  
            materials may include registration forms, voting notices,  
            voting instructions, ballots, sample ballots, polling place  
            notices, and voter information pamphlets.  AB 1443 establishes  
            in the Office of the Secretary of State a committee of  
            appointed specialists to advise state and local elections  
            officials on best practices to address language accessibility  
            needs of voters.  
           
           PRIOR ACTION
           
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          |Assembly Floor:                       |74 - 0                     |
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          |Assembly Appropriations Committee:    |17 - 0                     |
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          |Assembly Elections and Redistricting  |  7 - 0                    |








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          |Committee:                            |                           |
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          POSITIONS
           
          Sponsor: Secretary of State Alex Padilla

           Support: Advancement Project
                    Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles
                    California Association of Clerks and Elections  
                   Officials
                    California Immigrant Policy Center
                    Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment
                    League of Women Voters of California
                    National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed  
                   Officials
                    The Greenlining Institute

           Oppose:  None received   

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