BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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

          Bill No:             AB 2071        Hearing Date:    6/21/16    
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          |Author:    |Harper                                               |
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          |Version:   |4/19/16                                              |
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          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:    |No               |
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          |Consultant:|Darren Chesin                                        |
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                           Subject:  Vote by mail ballots

           DIGEST
           
          This bill defines the term "bona fide private mail delivery  
          company" for the purposes of a vote by mail (VBM) ballot  
          received after Election Day, as specified.  

           ANALYSIS
           
          Existing law:

          1)Provides that a VBM ballot is timely cast if it is received by  
            the voter's elections official via the United States Postal  
            Service (USPS) or a bona fide private mail delivery company no  
            later than three days after election day and either of the  
            following is satisfied: 

             a)   The ballot is postmarked or is time stamped or date  
               stamped by a bona fide private mail delivery company on or  
               before election day; or, 

             b)   If the ballot has no postmark, a postmark with no date,  
               or an illegible postmark, the VBM ballot identification  
               envelope is date stamped by the elections official upon  
               receipt of the VBM ballot from the USPS or a bona fide  
               private mail delivery company, and is signed and dated by  
               the voter on or before election day. 

          1)Requires a VBM ballot identification envelope to include  







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            specified information, including the following: 

             a)   A declaration, under penalty of perjury, stating that  
               the voter resides within the precinct in which he or she is  
               voting and is the person whose name appears on the  
               envelope; 

             b)   The signature of the voter; and, 

             c)   The date of signing. 

          1)Permits a VBM voter who is unable to return his or her ballot  
            to designate his or her spouse, child, parent, grandparent,  
            brother, sister, or a person residing in the same household as  
            the VBM voter to return the ballot to the elections official  
            from whom it came or to a precinct board before the close of  
            the polls on election day. 

          2)Prohibits a VBM ballot from being returned by a paid or  
            volunteer worker of a general purpose committee, controlled  
            committee, independent expenditure committee, political party,  
            candidate's campaign committee, or any other group or  
            organization at whose behest the individual designated to  
            return the ballot is performing a service.  Provides this  
            prohibition does not apply to a candidate or a candidate's  
            spouse.  

          This bill:

          1)Defines a "bona fide private mail delivery company" as a  
            for-profit courier service that is in the regular business of  
            accepting a mail item, package, or parcel for the purpose of  
            delivery, at a cost, to a person or entity whose address is  
            specified on the item.  A bona fide private mail delivery  
            company includes, but is not limited to, DHL, Federal Express  
            Corporation, and United Parcel Service.

           BACKGROUND
           
           "Postmark Plus Three" and Previous Legislation  .  In 2014, the  
          Legislature approved and the Governor signed SB 29 (Correa,  
          Chapter 618, Statutes of 2014), which allowed VBM ballots to be  
          counted if they were cast by election day and received by the  
          elections official by mail no later than three days after the  








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          election.  Specifically, SB 29 provides that any VBM ballot is  
          timely cast if it is received by the voter's elections official  
          via the USPS or a bona fide delivery company not later than  
          three days after Election Day, as specified.  Prior to the  
          enactment of SB 29, VBM ballots in California could be counted  
          only if they were received by the elections official by Election  
          Day. 

          SB 29 was introduced in response to the fact that an increasing  
          number of VBM ballots that were returned to elections officials  
          were arriving too late to be counted. Furthermore, given a  
          number of recently enacted and planned USPS facility closures,  
          there was a fear that the number of ballots arriving too late to  
          be counted would continue to rise.  According to a September  
          2014 report by the California Civic Engagement Project at the  
          University of California at Davis Center for Regional Change,  
          nearly 69,000 VBM ballots that were received by county election  
          offices in California for the November 2012 General Election  
          were rejected during ballot processing, with 47.8 percent of  
          uncounted ballots being rejected because they arrived too late.   
          Arriving late was the most common reason why a VBM ballot was  
          rejected. 

           COMMENTS
           
           1)According to the author  :  AB 2071 will protect the integrity  
            of California's election system by providing that only  
            legitimate courier services that are in regular business or  
            delivering parcels may handle and deliver VBM ballots on  
            behalf of voters after Election Day.  This includes well-known  
            services such as DHL, FedEx, and UPS.  As such, it will ensure  
            that only legitimate votes are counted, and that no California  
            voter is disenfranchised by the counting of ballots that have  
            been illegally harvested or tampered with in the days  
            following an election.  AB 2071 seeks to define a "bona fide  
            private mail delivery company."  The bill defines it as a  
            for-profit courier service 















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            that is in the regular business of accepting a mail item,  
            package, or parcel for the purpose of delivery, at a cost, to  
            a person or entity whose address is specified on the item.  

           2)Suggested Amendments  .  Staff suggests amending the definition  
            provided in the bill as follows:

          For purposes of this section, "bona fide private mail delivery  
            company" means a  for-profit courier service that is in the  
            regular business of accepting a mail item, package, or parcel  
            for the purpose of delivery  , at a cost,  to a person or entity  
            whose address is specified on the item.  A bona fide private  
            mail delivery company includes, but is not limited to, DHL,  
            Federal Express Corporation, and United Parcel Service. 

           Staff is not aware of any non-profit delivery or courier  
            services but if one existed the law should not prohibit their  
            use.  It is also unclear why the law should mandate that the  
            delivery be at a cost.  This statute should not prohibit a  
            courier service from offering to deliver VBM ballots for free  
            nor should it prohibit a governmental jurisdiction from  
            contracting with a courier service so voters won't have to pay  
            for postage.  Lastly, there is no reason to name specific  
            companies in the code - it implies that the state is  
            recommending or promoting these particular businesses over  
            their current or future competitors.

                               RELATED/PRIOR LEGISLATION
                                           
          AB 1921 (Gonzalez), which is also before this committee, permits  
          a VBM voter who is unable to return his or her ballot to  
          designate any person to return the ballot, as specified.  
          
          AB 1271 (Grove of 2015), would have required the  
          disqualification of VBM ballots that are received after Election  
          Day if those ballots are delivered by a bona fide private mail  
          delivery company or if those ballots have no postmark, a  
          postmark with no date, or an illegible postmark.  AB 1271 failed  
          passage in the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee.

          SB 29 (Correa, Chapter 618, Statutes of 2014), provided that a  
          VBM ballot is timely cast if it is received by the voter's  
          elections official via the USPS or a bona fide private mail  








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          delivery company no later than three days after election day, as  
          specified.

           PRIOR ACTION
           
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          |Assembly Floor:                       |77 - 0                     |
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          |Assembly Elections and Redistricting  |  7 - 0                    |
          |Committee:                            |                           |
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          POSITIONS
           
          Sponsor:  Author 

          Support:  Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

           Oppose:   None received 

                                          
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