BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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

          Bill No:             SB 365         Hearing Date:    4/7/15    
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          |Author:    |Pavley                                               |
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          |Version:   |2/24/15                                              |
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          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
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          |Consultant:|Frances Tibon Estoista                               |
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                      Subject:  Vote by mail ballot drop boxes

           DIGEST
           
          This bill permits a vote by mail (VBM) voter to return his or  
          her voted VBM ballot to the elections official from whom it came  
          at a VBM ballot drop-off location, as defined.  This bill  
          requires the Secretary of State (SOS) to promulgate regulations  
          establishing best practices for security measures and procedures  
          that a county elections official may use if the county elections  
          official establishes one or more vote by mail ballot drop-off  
          locations and VBM ballot drop boxes.

           ANALYSIS
           
          Existing law:

           1. Provides that all VBM ballots shall be voted on or before  
             the day of the election.  After marking the ballot, the VBM  
             voter must either (1) return the ballot by mail or in person  
             to the elections official from whom it came or (2) return the  
             ballot in person to a member of a precinct board at a polling  
             place within the jurisdiction.

           2. Permits a VBM voter who is unable to return the ballot to  
             designate his or her spouse, child, parent, grandparent,  
             grandchild, 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 the precinct board  
             at a polling place within the jurisdiction.







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           3. Provides that a ballot shall not be counted if it is not  
             delivered in compliance with the aforementioned sections.

           4. Requires elections officials to establish procedures to  
             ensure the secrecy of a VBM ballot returned to a precinct  
             polling place and the security, confidentiality, and  
             integrity of any related personal information collected,  
             stored, or otherwise used.

          This bill:

           1. Allows a VBM voter to return their ballot to the elections  
             official from whom it came at a VBM ballot drop-off location,  
             if provided.

           2. Defines a VBM ballot  drop box  as a secure receptacle  
             established by a county or city and county elections official  
             whereby a voted VBM ballot may be returned to the elections  
             official from whom it was obtained.
           3. Defines a VBM ballot drop-off  location  as a location  
             consisting of a secured VBM ballot drop box at which a voted  
             VBM ballot may be returned to the elections official from  
             whom it was obtained.

           4. Require SOS to promulgate regulations establishing best  
             practices for security measures and procedures that a county  
             elections official may use if the county elections official  
             establishes one or more VBM ballot drop-off locations.

                                      BACKGROUND
           
           Existing VBM Ballot Drop-Off Sites  .  An unknown number of  
          counties currently establish VBM drop-off sites although  
          existing law does not specifically address them.  One of those  
          counties, Sacramento County, designates facilities throughout  
          the county where voters can drop-off their ballots prior to  
          Election Day.  The county requires that all facilities must be  
          accessible to voters with disabilities and have at least one  
          person monitor the station.  Sites include facilities such as  
          city halls, county departments, assisted living facilities,  
          local businesses, non-profit and community organizations, and  
          facilities that already serve as polling places on Election Day.  
           A list of the VBM drop-off sites is included in Sacramento  








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          County's sample ballot booklets.  The Sacramento County system  
          is designed so that a voter or someone designated by the voter  
          must hand their voted VBM ballot to the person monitoring the  
          drop-off site.

          As the state's voter rolls increase, many voters are also taking  
          advantage of its VBM system, where a ballot is mailed to a  
          voter.  In the 2014 Primary Election, over 69% of voters and in  
          the 2014 General Election, over 60.5% of voters took advantage  
          of the VBM system and either mailed or dropped off their  
          completed ballots.
           
                                          COMMENTS  
          
            1. According to the Author  :  California law has actively  
             evolved to facilitate vote by mail.  Since 1990, vote-by-mail  
             use has grown from approximately 18 percent of the total  
             votes cast, to over 60 percent of the votes in the last  
             general election in November 2014.  In an effort to further  
             motivate VBM voters, some counties have begun to provide  
             additional drop-off locations.  These additional drop-off  
             locations (e.g., public libraries, city government offices,  
             senior centers) allow busy voters to drop off their ballots  
             much closer to home.

           SB 365 continues California's policy of decreasing barriers to  
             vote-by-mail adoption. The measure will make voting more  
             convenient for the public, help increase voter turn-out, and  
             ensure drop-off locations are secure.  Presently, there is an  
             ambiguity in current law around additional drop-off locations  
             that may be creating a potential barrier to counties seeking  
             to expand this service.

           For example, in the November 2014 election, Los Angeles County,  
             which has a population of more than 10 million people and is  
             over 4,700 square miles in size, had one drop-off location.   
             This may have contributed to the fact that only 38 percent of  
             voters in Los Angeles County used VBM-nearly 20 percent lower  
             than any other county in the state.

             SB 365 will clarify that additional drop off locations are  
             valid methods of delivering VBM ballots to the elections  
             official.









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                               RELATED/PRIOR LEGISLATION
           
          SB 240 (Yee) of 2013 (as last amended), was substantively  
          similar to this bill but died in the Assembly.

           POSITIONS
           
          Sponsor: Author

           Support: California State Council of the Service Employees  
                   International Union

           Oppose:  None received
                                          
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