BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    




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                                   THIRD READING 


          Bill No:  SB 365
          Author:   Pavley (D)
          Amended:  5/4/15  
          Vote:     21  

           SENATE ELECTIONS & C.A. COMMITTEE:  3-1, 4/7/15
           AYES:  Allen, Hancock, Hertzberg
           NOES:  Anderson
           NO VOTE RECORDED:  Liu

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE:  5-2, 5/28/15
           AYES:  Lara, Beall, Hill, Leyva, Mendoza
           NOES:  Bates, Nielsen

           SUBJECT:   Vote by mail ballot drop boxes


          SOURCE:    Author


          DIGEST:  This bill authorizes county elections officials to  
          establish vote by mail (VBM) ballot drop-off locations, and  
          requires the Secretary of State (SOS) to promulgate regulations  
          establishing guidelines on best practices for security measures  
          and procedures no later than January 1, 2017.


          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  








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             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.


           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)  Authorizes a VBM voter to return the ballot to the  
              elections official from whom it came at a vote by mail  
              ballot drop-off location.


            2)  Defines "vote by mail ballot drop box" as a secure  
              receptacle established by a county or city and county  
              elections official whereby a voted vote by mail ballot may  
              be returned to the elections official from whom it was  
              obtained.  


            3)  Defines "vote by mail ballot drop-off location" as a  
              location consisting of a secured vote by mail ballot drop  








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              box at which a voted VBM ballot may be returned.


            4)  Requires the Secretary of State to promulgate regulations  
              on or before January 1, 2017.  The regulations must  
              establish guidelines based on best practices for security  
              measures and procedures, including, but not limited to,  
              chain of custody, pick-up times, proper labeling, and  
              security of the vote by mail ballot drop boxes that the  
              county may use if establishing the VBM 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  
          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 percent of voters  
          and in the 2014 General Election, over 60.5 percent of voters  
          took advantage of the VBM system and either mailed or dropped  
          off their completed ballots.


          Comments








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          1)According to the author, California law has actively evolved  
            to facilitate VBM.  Since 1990, VBM 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  
            VBM 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.

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

          FISCAL EFFECT:   Appropriation:    No          Fiscal  
          Com.:YesLocal:   No

          According to the Senate Appropriations Committee:

           Approximately $55,000 in administrative expenses (General  








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            Fund)

          The Secretary of State indicates costs of approximately $55,000  
          to promulgate regulations.


          SUPPORT:   (Verified5/27/15)


          California Public Interest Research Group 
          California State Council of the Service Employees International  
          Union
          California Voter Foundation
          League of Women Voters of California 
          Secretary of State


          OPPOSITION:   (Verified5/27/15)


          None received
           
          Prepared by:Frances Tibon Estoista / E. & C.A. / (916) 651-4106
          5/30/15 19:11:39


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