BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 2010


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          Date of Hearing:  April 27, 2016


                  ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON ELECTIONS AND REDISTRICTING


                                Shirley Weber, Chair


          AB 2010  
          (Ridley-Thomas) - As Introduced February 16, 2016


          SUBJECT:  Samples ballots and voter pamphlets.


          SUMMARY:  Permits local agencies to allow candidates for local,  
          nonpartisan elective office to submit candidate statements that  
          are electronically distributed, but are not included in the  
          voter's pamphlets that accompany the sample ballots.   
          Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Permits the governing body of a local agency to permit each  
            candidate for nonpartisan elective office in the local agency  
            to prepare a candidate's statement for the purpose of  
            electronic distribution.  Provides that a statement prepared  
            for electronic distribution shall be posted on the Internet  
            Web site of the elections official, and may be included in a  
            voter's pamphlet that is electronically distributed by the  
            elections official, as specified.  Provides that a candidate's  
            statement prepared for the purpose of electronic distribution  
            shall not be included in a voter's pamphlet that is printed  
            and mailed to voters, as specified.


          2)Requires any candidate's statement submitted by a candidate  









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            for nonpartisan elective office in a local agency to be  
            printed in the voter's pamphlets that accompany the sample  
            ballots to be included with any statement that is prepared and  
            electronically distributed pursuant to this bill.


          3)Requires statements that are electronically distributed  
            pursuant to this bill to be displayed in a type of uniform  
            size and darkness, and with uniform spacing.


          4)Requires the elections official to provide a Spanish  
            translation of a candidate statement that is prepared for  
            electronic distribution to any candidate who wishes to have a  
            translation, and requires the elections official to select a  
            person to provide that translation as specified.


          5)Permits a local agency to require each candidate for  
            nonpartisan elective office who submits a candidate's  
            statement for the purpose of electronic distribution to pay in  
            advance to the local agency that candidate's estimated pro  
            rata share of having the statement electronically distributed.  
             Provides that the local agency is not bound by the estimate  
            and may bill candidates for the additional actual expense or  
            refund any excess paid depending on the final actual cost.


          6)Requires each voter's pamphlet that contains candidate  
            statements from candidates for nonpartisan elective office of  
            a local agency, if the agency has authorized candidates to  
            prepare a statement for the purpose of electronic  
            distribution, to include a statement that additional  
            statements are available on the Internet Web site of the  
            elections official, and requires the statement to include the  
            address of the Web site at which the statements may be viewed.










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          7)Makes corresponding and technical changes.


          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)Permits each candidate for local nonpartisan elective office  
            to submit a candidate's statement to appear in a voter's  
            pamphlet subject to the following procedures and restrictions:

             a)   Permits the statement to include the name, age, and  
               occupation of the candidate and a brief description, of no  
               more than 200 words, of the candidate's education and  
               qualifications expressed by the candidate himself or  
               herself.  Permits the governing body of the local agency to  
               authorize an increase in the limitations on the words for  
               the statement from 200 to 400 words.

             b)   Prohibits the statement from including the party  
               affiliation of the candidate, or membership or activity in  
               any partisan political organizations.

             c)   Permits a statement to be withdrawn, but not changed,  
               during the period for filing nomination papers and until 5  
               p.m. of the next working day after the close of the  
               nomination period.

             d)   Allows, but does not require, a local agency to require  
               each candidate filing a statement to pay for the pro rata  
               share of the total costs of printing, handling,  
               translating, and mailing all the candidate's statements.   
               Requires the local agency to decide whether to charge  
               candidates for the costs of candidate's statements before  
               the nominating period opens for the election.











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          2)Requires the elections official to send each voter a sample  
            ballot and a voter's pamphlet which contains the written  
            statements of each candidate.


          3)Requires each voter's pamphlet that contains candidate  
            statements, as detailed above, to include the following  
            statement or statements:


             a)   If any candidate is not listed in the pamphlet, that the  
               pamphlet does not contain a complete list of candidates and  
               that a complete list of candidates appears on the sample  
               ballot; and,


             b)   That each candidate's statement in the pamphlet is  
               volunteered by the candidate and (if printed at the  
               candidate's expense) is printed at his or her expense.


          4)Permits county and city elections officials to establish  
            processes designed to permit a voter to opt out of receiving  
            his or her sample ballot, voter's pamphlet, notice of polling  
            place, and associated materials by mail, and instead obtain  
            them electronically via email or accessing them on the  
            county's or city's Internet Web site, provided that certain  
            conditions are met.


          5)Allows a candidate for statewide elective office who accepts  
            the voluntary expenditure limits set forth by state law to  
            purchase the space to place a statement that does not exceed  
            250 words in the state ballot pamphlet.  Prohibits any such  
            statement from making reference to any opponent of the  
            candidate.  Requires any such statement to be submitted in  
            accordance with timeframes and procedures set forth by the  









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            Secretary of State for the preparation of the state ballot  
            pamphlet.  Defines "statewide office" for these purposes to  
            include the office of member of the Board of Equalization.

          6)Allows a candidate for State Senate or Assembly who accepts  
            the voluntary expenditure limits set forth by state law to  
            purchase the space to place a statement that does not exceed  
            250 words in the voter information portion of the sample  
            ballot.  Prohibits any such statement from making reference to  
            any opponent of the candidate.  Requires any such statement to  
            be submitted in accordance with timeframes and procedures set  
            forth in the Elections Code for the preparation of the voter  
            information portion of the sample ballot.


          7)Permits a candidate for United States Senator to purchase the  
            space to place a candidate's statement in the state ballot  
            pamphlet that does not exceed 250 words, as specified.   
            Permits a candidate for United States Representative to  
            purchase the space to place a statement in the voter  
            information portion of the sample ballot that does not exceed  
            250 words, as specified.


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


          COMMENTS:  


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


               The cost of candidate statements has a direct impact  
               on the amount of information that voters have about  
               candidates who are running for local office.  In the  









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               November 2014 election, San Francisco did not charge  
               candidates for local nonpartisan office for placing a  
               candidate statement in the voter's pamphlet.  Of the  
               43 candidates running for local, nonpartisan office,  
               42 submitted a candidate statement to be included in  
               the voter's pamphlet.  By contrast, in jurisdictions  
               where candidates must pay to have their statements  
               included in the voter's pamphlet, it is not uncommon  
               for less than 10 percent of candidates to have a  
               statement appear in the voter's pamphlet. 





               As people increasingly choose to access information  
               about elections electronically, and as elections  
               officials move to improve efficiency by providing more  
               information to voters in an electronic format, it  
               makes sense to provide a lower cost option for  
               candidates to communicate with voters about their  
               qualifications.


          2)Candidate Statements and Costs to Candidates:  As noted above,  
            every candidate for nonpartisan, local elective office has the  
            ability to prepare a candidate's statement to be included in a  
            voter's pamphlet that is sent to voters with the sample  
            ballot.  Because sample ballots are sent to all voters except  
            those who register to vote shortly before the election, these  
            statements allow candidates to provide a large segment of the  
            electorate with information about their qualifications.



            In order to defray the costs of producing the voter's  
            pamphlet, existing law allows local agencies to charge  









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            candidates for the costs of printing, handling, translating,  
            and mailing candidate statements to voters.  There is no  
            uniform method that is used to calculate the cost to  
            candidates for having their statements included in the voter's  
            pamphlet; the cost of placing a candidate statement in the  
            voter's pamphlet, however, generally is related to the number  
            of voters who are eligible to vote for the office that a  
            candidate is seeking.  While the cost of a candidate's  
            statement might be less than $100 for a school board candidate  
            in a small school district, the estimated cost for a candidate  
            for Superior Court Judge in Orange County to provide a 400  
            word statement is nearly $29,000.  In Los Angeles County, the  
            cost for a candidate for countywide office to place a  
            candidate statement in the voter's pamphlet exceeds $70,000,  
            and could cost four times that amount if the candidate chose  
            to have the statement printed in Spanish as well as English,  
            and if the statement was long enough that it extended onto a  
            second page in the voter's pamphlet.



            While local agencies are allowed to charge candidates for  
            including statements in the voter's pamphlet, they are not  
            required to do so.  For at least the last decade, San  
            Francisco has allowed candidates for nonpartisan, local  
            elective office to place a candidate statement in the voter's  
            pamphlet free of charge.  Over that time period, 366 of the  
            369 candidates for nonpartisan, local elective office who have  
            appeared on the ballot in San Francisco have chosen to provide  
            a candidate statement to be included in the voter's pamphlet.

          3)Local Office Only: The provisions of this bill authorizing  
            local jurisdictions to allow candidates to submit candidate  
            statements solely for the purposes of electronic distribution  
            are applicable only to candidates for nonpartisan, local  
            elective office.  Statements by candidates for State Assembly,  
            State Senate, and United States House of Representatives, also  









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            appear in the voter's pamphlet that is distributed with the  
            sample ballot, but this bill would not explicitly permit local  
            jurisdictions to authorize candidates for those offices to  
            submit candidate statements solely for the purposes of  
            electronic distribution.  Statements submitted by candidates  
            for those offices, however, are subject to different  
            restrictions and procedures than statements submitted by  
            candidates for nonpartisan, local elective office.  Candidates  
            for state Legislature, for instance, must agree to abide by  
            voluntary expenditure limits in order to be eligible to place  
            a candidate statement in the voter information portion of the  
            sample ballot.  Furthermore, while local jurisdictions have  
            the authority to decide whether to charge candidates for  
            nonpartisan, local elective office for including candidate  
            statements in the voter's pamphlet, state law generally  
            requires candidates for the Legislature and Congress to  
            "purchase the space" to place a statement in the voter  
            information portion of the sample ballot. 


          4)Arguments in Support:  In support of this bill, the California  
            Voter Foundation writes:


               This bill, if enacted, will help expand California  
               voters' access to crucial election information by  
               creating an affordable option for local candidates to  
               place candidate statements. Under current law, the  
               only option available to candidates is to submit a  
               statement for inclusion in the printed voter's  
               pamphlet, for which local election officials can and  
               do charge considerable fees in order to defray costs  
               such as staff time, printing and postage. For many  
               local candidates, the price tag for placing an  
               official candidate statement before voters is out of  
               reach, especially for candidates who are running for  
               part-time, volunteer positions and for which they  









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               raise little to no campaign funds?.



               It is our hope that by giving candidates a more  
               affordable option for placing statements, more voters  
               statewide will gain access to the most essential  
               information needed when deciding how to vote, which is  
               candidates stating in their own words why they are  
               best qualified to represent us. Candidate statements  
               are not only a key tool to help voters make more  
               informed election choices; they are also an important  
               tool for holding politicians accountable once elected  
               to office. As voters increasingly turn to the Internet  
               and their smartphones to access election information,  
               AB 2010 will be an important step to ensure they will  
               find what they need when they look for it.

          5)Related Legislation:  AB 2911 (Elections and Redistricting  
            Committee), which is also being heard in this committee today,  
            standardizes terms in the Elections Code that are used to  
            refer to the county and state voter information guides.


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          American Civil Liberties Union of California


          California Voter Foundation










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          Los Angeles County 


          Shasta County Clerk/Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen




          Opposition


          None on file.




          Analysis Prepared by:Ethan Jones / E. & R. / (916) 319-2094