BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 2824


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          Date of Hearing:  April 13, 2016


                  ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON ELECTIONS AND REDISTRICTING


                                Shirley Weber, Chair


          AB 2824  
          (Thurmond) - As Amended April 6, 2016


          SUBJECT:  Elections:  precinct reports.


          SUMMARY:  Requires a county elections official, with the  
          technical capacity to do so, to post semiofficial election  
          information on the county's Internet Website in both  
          downloadable spreadsheet and Election Markup Language (EML)  
          formats, as specified.  Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Requires a county with the technical capacity to do so to post  
            the following information on its Internet Website:


             a)   A statement of the results showing all the following:


               i)     The total number of ballots cast;


               ii)    The number of votes cast at each precinct for each  
                 candidate and for and against each measure;


               iii)   The number of votes cast for each candidate and for  
                 and against each measure; and, 








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               iv)    The number of votes cast in each city, Assembly  
                 district, congressional district, senatorial district,  
                 State Board of Equalization district, and supervisorial  
                 district located in whole or in part in the county, for  
                 each candidate for the offices of presidential elector  
                 and all statewide offices, depending on the offices to be  
                 filled, and on each statewide ballot proposition.


             b)   Precinct data for absentee ballots, provisional ballots,  
               spoiled ballots, and any other data readily available on  
               the computer system.


          2)Requires a county to provide the information listed above in  
            both downloadable spreadsheet and EML formats.  Permits the  
            spreadsheet to include a comma-separated values file or a  
            tab-separated values file that is compatible with a  
            spreadsheet software application widely used at the time of  
            the posting.  Requires a county, if it does not have the  
            capability to provide this information in the formats  
            described, to provide the information in whichever format it  
            is able.


          3)Requires a county, following the commencement of the semifinal  
            official canvass, to post the information described above at  
            the end of election night, daily through the first Friday  
            after election day, and thereafter, weekly on Fridays until  
            the results are certified in accordance with existing law.


          4)Requires a county, if modification to its voting system would  
            allow the county to comply with the posting requirements  
            stated above, to propose a modification of its voting system  
            to the Secretary of State (SOS) for approval pursuant to  
            existing law. 








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          5)Decreases the length of time that a county elections official  
            must post and maintain the certified statement of the election  
            results on its Internet Website following the election from at  
            least 10 years to at least 22 months.  


          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)Requires an elections official, for every election, to conduct  
            a semifinal official canvass by tabulating vote by mail (VBM)  
            and precinct ballots and compiling the results.  Requires the  
            semifinal official canvass to commence immediately upon the  
            close of the polls and continue without adjournment until all  
            precincts are accounted for.  

          2)Requires an elections official to transmit the semifinal  
            official results to the SOS, in a manner prescribed by the  
            SOS, for the following:

             a)   All candidates voted for the following offices:

               i)     Statewide office;

               ii)    Member of the Assembly;

               iii)   Member of the Senate;

               iv)    Member of the United States House of  
                 Representatives;

               v)     Member of the State Board of Equalization;

               vi)    Justice of the Court of Appeal; and,

               vii)   Judge of the superior court;









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             b)   The persons voted for at the presidential primary;

             c)   The vote given for persons for electors of President and  
               Vice President of the United States;

             d)   All statewide measures; and,

             e)   The total number of ballots cast.

          3)Requires the elections official to transmit the results to the  
            SOS at intervals no greater than two hours, following the  
            commencement of the semifinal official canvass.

          4)Requires the elections official who conducts an election to  
            prepare a certified statement of the results of the election  
            and submit it to the governing body within 30 days of the  
            election or, in the case of school district, community college  
            district, county board of education, or special district  
            elections conducted on the first Tuesday after the first  
            Monday in November of odd-numbered years, no later than the  
            last Monday before the last Friday of that month.

          5)Requires an elections official to post the certified statement  
            of the results of an election on his or her Internet Website  
            in a downloadable spreadsheet format that may include, but is  
            not limited to, a comma-separated values file or a  
            tab-separated values file that is compatible with a  
            spreadsheet software application that is widely used at the  
            time of the posting.  Provides that this requirement applies  
            only to those counties with a computer system capable of  
            compliance without undergoing any modification.


          6)Requires the certified statement of the election results to be  
            posted and maintained on the elections official's Internet  
            Website for a period of at least 10 years following the  
            election.  

          7)Requires the certified statement of the results to show all of  








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            the following:

             a)   The total number of ballots cast;

             b)   The number of votes cast at each precinct for each  
               candidate and for and against each measure;

             c)   The total number of votes cast for each candidate and  
               for and against each measure; and,

             d)   The number of votes cast in each city, Assembly  
               district, congressional district, senatorial district,  
               State Board of Equalization district, and supervisorial  
               district located in whole or in part in the county, for  
               each candidate for the offices of presidential elector and  
               all statewide offices, depending on the offices to be  
               filled, and on each statewide ballot proposition.


          8)Requires an elections official to send the SOS within 31 days  
            of the election, in an electronic format, a complete copy of  
            the results of all of the following:

             a)   All candidates voted for the following offices:

               i)     Statewide office;

               ii)    Member of the Assembly;

               iii)   Member of the Senate;

               iv)    Member of the United States House of  
                 Representatives;

               v)     Member of the State Board of Equalization;

               vi)    Justice of the Court of Appeal; and,

               vii)   Judge of the superior court;








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             b)   The persons voted for at the presidential primary;

             c)   The vote given for persons for electors of President and  
               Vice President of the United States;

             d)   All statewide measures; and,

             e)   The total number of ballots cast.

          9)Provides that if a voting system or a part of a voting system  
            has been certified or conditionally approved by the SOS, it  
            shall not be changed or modified until the SOS has been  
            notified in writing and has determined that the change or  
            modification does not impair its accuracy and efficiency  
            sufficient to require a reexamination and recertification, or  
            conditional approval pursuant to existing law.  

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown.  State-mandated local program; contains  
          reimbursement direction.


          COMMENTS:  


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


               California leads the country in transparent, secure,  
               and auditable elections.  As an election protection  
               advocate and activist, I am proud to have done my part  
               to make this so.  AB 2824 is the next small step in  
               this process - to provide information on a timely  
               basis that is needed by campaign managers and  
               initiative proponents starting on election night in a  
               format that they can use to verify reported results  
               and analyze the detail in various ways that will  
               satisfy them, preventing uncertainty and possibly  
               avoiding the need to interrupt Registrars with  








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               inquiries, requests for recounts and audits.


          2)Electronic Results:  Existing law requires a county elections  
            official to conduct a semifinal official canvass by tabulating  
            VBM and precinct ballots, compiling the results, and  
            transmitting the semiofficial results to the SOS in a manner  
            prescribed by the SOS. Specifically, a county elections  
            official is required to provide the SOS with results for  
            elections for state and federal office, and for statewide  
            ballot measures every two hours following the commencement of  
            the semiofficial canvass.  

          Additionally, current law requires county elections officials to  
            prepare a final certified statement of the results of the  
            election and submit it to the governing body within 30 days of  
            the election, as specified.  Similar to semiofficial elections  
            results, county elections officials are also required to  
            provide the SOS with final elections results in an electronic  
            format for elections for state and federal office, and for  
            statewide ballot measures.  

          In 2013, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed AB 813  
            (Melendez), Chapter 112, Statutes of 2013, which additionally  
            required elections officials to post certified election  
            results on the county's Internet Website in a downloadable  
            spreadsheet format.  Specifically, AB 813 requires county  
            elections officials who use a computer system that has the  
            capability of producing the election results in a downloadable  
            spreadsheet format without requiring modification of the  
            computer system, to post the certified statement of the  
            election results on the county Internet Website in a  
            downloadable spreadsheet format that may include, but not be  
            limited to, a comma-separated values file or a tab-separated  
            values file that is compatible with a spreadsheet software  
            application that is widely used at the time of the posting.  

          This bill expands these requirements and requires county  
            elections officials to post election results earlier beginning  








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            on election night.  Specifically, this bill requires county  
            elections officials that have the technical capacity to do so,  
            to post semiofficial election results on its Internet Website  
            in both downloadable spreadsheet and EML formats.  This bill  
            permits the downloadable spreadsheet to include a  
            comma-separated values file or a tab-separated values file  
            that is compatible with a spreadsheet software application  
            widely used at the time of the posting.  However, if a county  
            does not have the capability to provide information in the  
            formats described, this bill requires county elections  
            officials to provide the information in whichever format it is  
            able.  

          While many counties already have the capability to post  
            certified elections results in this manner, the committee is  
            unsure if the same can be said for posting semiofficial  
            election results in the same manner.  Moreover, this bill  
            requires the semiofficial results to be posted in  
            substantially similar format that certified election results  
            are posted, except that this bill also requires precinct data  
            for VBM ballots, provisional ballots, spoiled ballots, and any  
            other data readily available on the computer system to also be  
            posted in a downloadable spreadsheet format, as specified.   
            Requiring semiofficial elections results to be posted down to  
            the precinct level may be challenging for county elections  
            officials to comply with, especially the frequency at which  
            this bill requires this information to be posted.  This bill  
            requires this information to be posted beginning at the end of  
            election night, daily through the first Friday after election  
            day, and thereafter, weekly on Fridays until the results are  
            certified in accordance with existing law.  It is the  
            understanding of committee staff that depending on the voting  
            system that a county uses, a county may have to shut down its  
            system in order to generate the required spreadsheets and it  
            can take approximately 60 to 90 minutes for the spreadsheets  
            to be created.  Some counties, however, may use an outside  
            vendor to create these downloadable spreadsheets and as a  
            result, do not need to shut down their system down and may  
            continue to process ballots while these reports are being  








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            generated.  This, however, could potentially be problematic.   
            Because it is very common for ballot totals to change as  
            ballots are being processed, reconciled and so forth, these  
            reports will simply be a snapshot in time and will not  
            necessarily reflect current vote totals.  Consequently,  
            posting the semiofficial election results may cause confusion  
            rather than bring transparency to election results.  

          Moreover, this bill requires a county, if modification to its  
            voting system would allow the county to comply with the  
            posting requirements stated above, to propose a modification  
            of its voting system to the SOS for approval pursuant to  
            existing law.  Because the bill states that these posting  
            requirements are only required to be implemented for a county  
            that has the capability to do so, it is unclear when this  
            requirement would be implemented.  If it is the author's  
            intent to require a county elections official to make  
            modifications to its voting system when a county upgrades or  
            purchases a new system, the committee may wish to consider  
            amending the bill to clarify the author's intent.    
          3)Duration of Posting:  As mentioned above, current law requires  
            an elections official whose computer system has the capability  
            without undergoing any modification, to post the certified  
            statement of the results of an election on his or her Internet  
            Web site, in a downloadable spreadsheet format, as specified.   
            Additionally, existing law requires the certified statement of  
            the election results to be posted and maintained on the  
            elections official's Internet Web site for a period of at  
            least 10 years following the election.  This bill  
            significantly decreases the length of time an elections  
            official is required to keep the certified election results  
            posted on his or her Web site from at least 10 years to at  
            least 22 months.  According to advocates of the bill,  
            decreasing the length of time will make it consistent with  
            federal law which requires ballots to be stored for 22 months  
            after a federal election.  Because committee staff has not  
            received any feedback to suggest that the length of time is  
            burdensome, the author and the committee may wish to consider  
            whether changing the length of time that certified elections  








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            results are posted and maintained on a county's Website is  
            prudent.  Moreover, decreasing the length of time at which  
            certified elections results are posted online seems contrary  
            to the author's goal of transparency and accessibility to  
            elections results.  Lowering the length of time to 22 months  
            does not even encompass the full length of an election cycle.



          4)Suggested Technical Amendment:  The committee staff recommends  
            the following technical amendment:


               On page 3, in line 1, strike out "absentee ballots" and  
               insert "vote by mail ballots."


          5)Previous Legislation:  AB 813 (Melendez), Chapter 112,  
            Statutes of 2013, requires elections officials to post  
            election results on the Internet in a downloadable spreadsheet  
            format, as specified.



          SB 29 (Correa), Chapter 618, Statutes of 2014, extended the  
            deadline for elections officials to prepare a certified  
            statement of the results of an election from 28 days after the  
            election to 30 days after the election, among other  
            provisions.
          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          Voting Rights Task Force









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          Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club




          Opposition


          None on file. 




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