BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 2455


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          Date of Hearing:  April 13, 2016 


                  ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON ELECTIONS AND REDISTRICTING


                                Shirley Weber, Chair


          AB 2455  
          (Chiu & Bonta) - As Amended April 6, 2016


          SUBJECT:  Electronic voter registration: public postsecondary  
          educational institutions.


          SUMMARY:  Requires the California State University (CSU) and  
          California Community Colleges (CCC) to permit students who  
          enroll online at the institution to electronically register to  
          vote through the Web site of the Secretary of State (SOS),  
          beginning July 1, 2018.  Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Requires the CSU and CCC, not later than July 1, 2018, to  
            implement a process and the infrastructure to allow a person  
            who enrolls online at the institution, to submit an affidavit  
            of voter registration electronically on the Internet Web site  
            of the SOS, as specified.  Encourages the University of  
            California (UC) to coordinate with the SOS to develop such a  
            process.


          2)Declares the intent of the Legislature, in enacting this bill,  
            to take preliminary measures towards the establishment of an  
            automatic voter registration system for California citizens  
            enrolled at state public college and university campuses.









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          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)Requires, pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act  
            (NVRA) of 1993, each state to offer voter registration  
            services at motor vehicle agency offices, offices that provide  
            public assistance, offices that provide state-funded programs  
            primarily engaged in providing services to persons with  
            disabilities, Armed Forces recruitment offices, and other  
            state and local offices within the state designated as NVRA  
            voter registration agencies. 


          2)Provides that a person entitled to register to vote shall be a  
            United States citizen, a resident of California, not in prison  
            or on parole for the conviction of a felony, and at least 18  
            years of age at the time of the next election. 


          3)Provides that a person may not be registered to vote except by  
            affidavit of registration. 


          4)Generally requires a voter registration application to contain  
            the signature of the applicant.  


          5)Requires a person who registers to vote online to assent  
            affirmatively to the use of his or her signature from his or  
            her driver's license or state identification card, if any, for  
            voter registration purposes.  Requires the SOS to obtain an  
            electronic copy of the signature of a person who registers to  
            vote online directly from the Department of Motor Vehicles  
            (DMV), if the DMV has a signature for the person.










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          6)Generally requires a voter's signature on a petition, vote by  
            mail ballot, provisional ballot, or candidate's nomination  
            papers, to be compared against that voter's signature on the  
            voter registration application, and provides that the  
            signature on the petition, ballot, or nomination papers must  
            match that on the voter registration in order for that  
            signature to count.


          7)Requires the DMV to transfer records to the SOS of each person  
            who submits an application for a driver's license or state  
            identification card, or provides the DMV with a change of  
            address, and who attests that he or she meets all voter  
            eligibility requirements. Provides that the records of a  
            person that are transmitted from the DMV to the SOS pursuant  
            to this provision shall constitute a completed affidavit of  
            voter registration for that person unless a) the person  
            affirmatively declines to register to vote at the DMV, b) the  
            person does not attest that he or she meets all voter  
            eligibility requirements while at the DMV, or c) the SOS  
            determines that the person is not eligible to register to  
            vote. 


          8)Requires, pursuant to the Student Voter Registration Act,  
            every community college and CSU campus that operates an  
            automated class registration system to permit students,  
            through an automated program during the class registration  
            process, to apply to register to vote online by submitting an  
            affidavit of voter registration electronically on the Internet  
            Web site of the SOS.  Requests the UC system to comply with  
            this process.


          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown.  State-mandated local program; contains  
          a crimes and infractions disclaimer; contains reimbursement  









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          direction.


          COMMENTS:  


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


               Young people haven't been registering to vote or  
               turning out to the polls. In 2014, 18-24 year-olds had  
               the lowest turnout of all age groups: only 285,000 of  
               3.5 million eligible young adult voters turned out to  
               vote. Because of their low voting numbers, the young  
               adult voice was greatly underrepresented in 2014.  
               Youth made up a meager 3.9 percent of those who voted,  
               despite constituting 14.5 percent of the eligible  
               voting population.





               For young people in particular, the process of  
               registering to vote can be a deterrent and can present  
               obstacles that affect their ability to register and  
               vote at greater levels. Young people have higher rates  
               of geographic mobility, which affects how frequently  
               they must update their voter registration information.  
               When young voters move or their information changes,  
               their registration records may not be updated,  
               effectively keeping them off of the voter rolls.














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               Registering more students to vote - the first step in  
               getting them to the polls - improves our democracy.





               The Student Voting Act will implement an online link  
               between class enrollment and voter registration for  
               students at the [UC], [CSU] and [CCC] systems.  
               Collectively these campuses have approximately 2.8  
               million students. These public college and university  
               systems can serve as an important entry point register  
               hundreds of thousands of additional Californians.





               Furthermore, the infrastructure created under AB 2455  
               will be the first step towards the establishment of an  
               automated voter registration system for students  
               enrolled at our state's public college and university  
               campuses.



          2)California New Motor Voter Program: Last year, the Legislature  
            passed and the Governor signed AB 1461 (Gonzalez), Chapter  
            729, Statutes of 2015, also known as the California New Motor  
            Voter Program (CNMVP), which provides for every person who  
            submits an application for a driver's license or state  
            identification card, or provides the DMV with a change of  
            address, and who attests that he or she meets all voter  
            eligibility requirements, to be registered to vote, unless  
            that person opts out, as specified.  The process established  
            under the CNMVP is sometimes referred to as "automatic" or  









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            "automated" voter registration. 



          The CNMVP will be implemented no later than one year after the  
            SOS certifies all of the following: 1) California's new  
            statewide voter registration database, known as VoteCal, is  
            fully operational; 2) the Legislature has appropriated the  
            funds necessary for the SOS and the DMV to implement and  
            maintain the CNMVP; and, 3) regulations required by the CNMVP  
            have been adopted by the SOS.   VoteCal currently is scheduled  
            to become the voter registration database of record in June of  
            this year, and neither of the other conditions required for  
            the implementation of the CNMVP have been met, so it is  
            unlikely that the CNMVP will be implemented prior to the  
            middle of 2017.

          The DMV is uniquely positioned among governmental bodies to  
            implement a program like the CNMVP, and to increase voter  
            registration rates through such a program.  First, the DMV  
            already had obligations under the NVRA to offer voter  
            registration services-a requirement that was enacted, in part,  
            due to the fact that motor vehicle departments regularly  
            interact with a high percentage of the eligible voter  
            population.  As a result, implementing the CNMVP through the  
            DMV ensured that it would reach a large portion of the  
            eligible voter population.  Second, DMV records already  
            contain much of the information needed in order to register a  
            person to vote, meaning that only limited additional  
            information needs to be collected from a person to complete  
            that person's registration.  Third, the DMV's computer systems  
            already have an interface with the state's voter registration  
            system for the purposes of validating and updating voter  
            registrations.  That interface will be crucial for the  
            implementation of the CNMVP.  Finally, the DMV already has  
            digitized signatures on file for most of its customers, and  
            California law requires a signature to be included in a  









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            voter's registration record for a variety of elections-related  
            purposes.  All these factors reduced the challenges to  
            implementing the CNMVP and increased the likelihood that the  
            program will result in a significant increase in the number of  
            registered voters. 

          This bill declares the intent of the Legislature to take  
            preliminary measures towards the establishment of an automatic  
            voter registration system for California citizens enrolled at  
            state public college and university campuses.  If the desire  
            is to eventually move toward a voter registration process at  
            colleges and universities that is similar to the CNMVP  
            process, there are a number of obstacles that will need to be  
            overcome before such a process is feasible.  Unlike the DMV,  
            the CSU and CCC systems do not typically have digitized  
            signatures on file for their customers (students).   
            Furthermore, the type of interface that the DMVs computers  
            have with the state's voter registration system does not exist  
            with the CSU and CCC systems.  In light of these facts, any  
            future attempt to implement a CNMVP-like process at the CSU  
            and CCC systems will face obstacles that did not exist for  
            implementing the program with the DMV.  Furthermore, such a  
            program at the CSU and CCC system will reach a substantially  
            smaller portion of the eligible voter population than the  
            CNMVP will reach through the DMV. 
          3)Student Voter Registration Act:  AB 593 (Ridley-Thomas),  
            Chapter 819, Statutes of 2003, created the Student Voter  
            Registration Act of 2003 which, among other things, required  
            the SOS to provide every high school, CCC, CSU, and UC campus  
            with voter registration forms and information describing  
            eligibility requirements and instructions on how to return the  
            completed form.  SB 854 (Ridley-Thomas), Chapter 481, Statutes  
            of 2007, amended the law to require every CCC and CSU that  
            operates an automated class registration system to permit  
            students, during the class registration process, to receive a  
            voter registration application that is preprinted with  
            personal information relevant to voter registration, as  









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            specified. The UC system was encouraged to comply with this  
            provision.  



          Following the launch of California's online voter registration  
            system, the Student Voter Registration Act was updated by AB  
            1446 (Mullin), Chapter 593, Statutes of 2014, to eliminate  
            requirements for the SOS to provide high schools, CCC, CSU,  
            and UC campuses with a number of paper voter registration  
            forms consistent with the number of students enrolled, and  
            instead required the SOS to provide voter registration forms  
            upon request.  AB 1446 also updated the voter registration  
            process at CSU and CCC campuses that was created through SB  
            854 by requiring that an automated class registration system  
            permit students to apply to register to vote online by  
            submitting an affidavit of voter registration electronically  
            on the SOS's Internet Web site.  According to an annual report  
            prepared by the SOS, in 2015, 14,669 students at CCC, CSU, and  
            UC campuses completed a voter registration application online  
            using the process established by the Student Voter  
            Registration Act.

          This bill would require the CCC and the CSU systems, and would  
            request the UC system, to create a similar process to the one  
            that exists under the Student Voter Registration Act, that  
            would allow a student to submit an electronic voter  
            registration affidavit at the time he or she enrolls online at  
            the higher education institution.
          4)California Registration Statistics: According to the most  
            recent report of registration produced by the SOS, there are  
            17,259,413 registered voters in California out of an estimated  
            24,584,491 Californians who are eligible to register to vote,  
            meaning that approximately 70.2 percent of eligible  
            Californians are registered to vote. Over the last 50 years,  
            the percentage of eligible Californians who were registered to  
            vote has been as high as 80.2 percent (in 1996) and as low as  









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            66.3 percent (in 1979).  According to data from the US Census,  
            eligible Californians aged 18-24 are less likely to be  
            registered to vote than any other age group; in 2014, eligible  
            18- to 24-year olds in California were only about two-thirds  
            as likely to be registered to vote as eligible Californians as  
            a whole, and were only about 56% as likely to be registered as  
            eligible voters aged 65 or older.



































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          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          Student Senate for the California Community Colleges (prior  
          version)*


          University of California Student Association (prior version)*




          Opposition


          Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (prior version)*



          *Note: All letters of support and opposition received by the  
          committee on this bill refer to a prior version of the bill that  
          would have required the CSU and CCC systems, and would have  
          requested the UC system, to implement an automated voter  
          registration process similar to the CNMVP.  Recent amendments to  
          this bill substantially narrowed its scope.  


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












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