Amended in Senate April 6, 2015

Senate BillNo. 415


Introduced by Senator Hueso

(Principalbegin delete coauthor: Assembly Memberend deletebegin insert coauthors: Assembly Membersend insert Alejobegin insert, Calderon, and Rogerend insertbegin insert Hernándezend insert)

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(Coauthor: Assembly Member Roger Hernández)

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February 25, 2015


An actbegin insert to add Chapter 1.7 (commencing with Section 14050) to Division 14 of the Elections Code,end insert relating to elections.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

SB 415, as amended, Hueso. begin deleteLocal election dates. end deletebegin insertVoter participation.end insert

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Existing law generally requires all state, county, municipal, district, and school district elections be held on an established election date. Existing law also establishes certain dates for statewide elections. Existing law requires any state, county, municipal, district, and school district election held on a statewide election date to be consolidated with a statewide election, except as provided.

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This bill would prohibit a political subdivision, as defined, from holding an election other than on a statewide election date if holding an election on a non-concurrent date has previously resulted in voter turnout for a regularly-scheduled election in that political subdivision being at least five percent less than the average voter turnout within the political subdivision for the previous four statewide general elections.

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This bill would require a court to implement appropriate remedies upon a violation of this prohibition. This bill would permit a voter who resides in a political subdivision where a violation is alleged to enforce this prohibition, and it would allow a prevailing plaintiff other than the state or political subdivision to collect a reasonable attorney’s fee and litigation expenses, as provided.

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By requiring counties to change the conduct of their elections in certain circumstances, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

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The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

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This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions.

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Existing law establishes election dates in each year, which are the second Tuesday of April in each even-numbered year, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March of each odd-numbered year, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June in each year, and the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of each year. Existing law requires the statewide direct primary election and the statewide general election to be held on the established dates in June and November of each even-numbered year. Existing law requires that county, municipal, district, and school district elections be held on one or more of the established election dates, as specified.

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This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would prohibit a political subdivision from holding an election on a date other than the date of a statewide direct primary election or statewide general election if doing so would result in a significant decrease in voter turnout as compared to the voter turnout at a statewide election.

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Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: begin deleteno end deletebegin insertyesend insert. State-mandated local program: begin deleteno end deletebegin insertyesend insert.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

P2    1begin insert

begin insertSECTION 1.end insert  

end insert

begin insertChapter 1.7 (commencing with Section 14050)
2is added to Division 14 of the end insert
begin insertElections Codeend insertbegin insert, to read:end insert

begin insert

P3    1 

2Chapter  begin insert1.7.end insert Voter Participation
3

 

4

begin insert14050.end insert  

This act shall be known and may be cited as the
5California Voter Participation Rights Act.

6

begin insert14051.end insert  

As used in this chapter:

7(a) “Political subdivision” means a geographic area of
8representation created for the provision of government services,
9including, but not limited to, a city, a school district, a community
10college district, or other district organized pursuant to state law.

11(b) “Significant decrease in voter turnout” means the voter
12turnout for a regularly-scheduled election in a political subdivision
13is at least five percent less than the average voter turnout within
14that political subdivision for the previous four statewide general
15elections.

16(c) “Voter turnout” means the percentage of voters who are
17eligible to cast ballots within a given political subdivision who
18voted.

19

begin insert14052.end insert  

A political subdivision shall not hold an election other
20than on a statewide election date if holding an election on a
21non-concurrent date has previously resulted in a significant
22decrease in voter turnout.

23

begin insert14053.end insert  

Upon a finding of a violation of Section 14052, the
24court shall implement appropriate remedies, including the
25imposition of concurrent election dates for future elections and
26the upgrade of voting equipment or systems to do so. In imposing
27remedies pursuant to this section, a court may also require a county
28board of supervisors to approve consolidation pursuant to Section
2910402.5.

30

begin insert14054.end insert  

In an action to enforce Section 14052, the court shall
31allow the prevailing plaintiff other than the state or political
32subdivision thereof, a reasonable attorney’s fee consistent with
33the standards established in Serrano v. Priest (1977) 20 Cal.3d
3425, 48-49, and litigation expenses including, but not limited to,
35expert witness fees and expenses as part of the costs. A prevailing
36defendant shall not recover any costs, unless the court finds the
37action to be frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation.

38

begin insert14055.end insert  

A voter who resides in a political subdivision where a
39violation of Section 14052 is alleged may file an action pursuant
P4    1to that section in the superior court of the county in which the
2political subdivision is located.

3

begin insert14056.end insert  

This chapter shall not apply to special elections.

end insert
4begin insert

begin insertSEC. 2.end insert  

end insert

begin insertThis act shall become operative on January 1, 2018.end insert

5begin insert

begin insertSEC. 3.end insert  

end insert
begin insert

If the Commission on State Mandates determines that
6this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to
7local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made
8pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division
94 of Title 2 of the Government Code.

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10

SECTION 1.  

It is the intent of the Legislature to enact
11legislation to prohibit a political subdivision from holding an
12election on a date other than the date of a statewide direct primary
13election or statewide general election if doing so would result in
14a significant decrease in voter turnout as compared to the voter
15turnout at a statewide election.

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