Amended in Senate April 28, 2015

Amended in Senate April 15, 2015

Amended in Senate April 6, 2015

Senate BillNo. 415


Introduced by Senator Hueso

(Principal coauthors: Assembly Members Alejo, Calderon, and Roger Hernández)

February 25, 2015


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

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

SB 415, as amended, Hueso. Voter participation.

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.

This bill, commencing January 1, 2018, 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 leastbegin delete five percentend deletebegin insert 25%end insert less than the average voter turnout within the political subdivision for the previousbegin delete fourend deletebegin insert 4end insert statewide general elections.

This bill would require a court to implement appropriate remedies upon a violation of this prohibition.begin delete Thisend deletebegin insert Theend insert bill wouldbegin delete permitend deletebegin insert authorizeend insert 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.

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no. State-mandated local program: no.

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

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SECTION 1.  

Chapter 1.7 (commencing with Section 14050)
2is added to Division 14 of the Elections Code, to read:

3 

4Chapter  1.7. Voter Participation
5

 

6

14050.  

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the
7California Voter Participation Rights Act.

8

14051.  

As used in this chapter:

9(a) “Political subdivision” means a geographic area of
10representation created for the provision of government services,
11including, but not limited to, a city, a school district, a community
12college district, or other district organized pursuant to state law.

13(b) “Significant decrease in voter turnout” means the voter
14turnout for a regularly scheduled election in a political subdivision
15is at leastbegin delete fiveend deletebegin insert 25end insert percent less than the average voter turnout within
16that political subdivision for the previous four statewide general
17elections.

18(c) “Voter turnout” means the percentage of voters who are
19eligible to cast ballots within a given political subdivision who
20voted.

21

14052.  

A political subdivision shall not hold an election other
22than on a statewide election date if holding an election on a
23nonconcurrent date has previously resulted in a significant decrease
24in voter turnout.

25

14053.  

Upon a finding of a violation of Section 14052, the
26court shall implement appropriate remedies, including the
27imposition of concurrent election dates for future elections and
28the upgrade of voting equipment or systems to do so. In imposing
29remedies pursuant to this section, a court may also require a county
30board of supervisors to approve consolidation pursuant to Section
3110402.5.

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14054.  

In an action to enforce Section 14052, the court shall
2allow the prevailing plaintiff other than the state or political
3subdivisionbegin delete thereof,end deletebegin insert of the state,end insert a reasonable attorney’s fee
4consistent with the standards established in Serrano v. Priest (1977)
520 Cal.3d 25, 48-49, and litigation expenses including, but not
6limited to, expert witness fees and expenses as part of the costs.
7A prevailing defendant shall not recover any costs, unless the court
8finds the action to be frivolous, unreasonable, or without
9foundation.

10

14055.  

A voter who resides in a political subdivision where a
11violation of Section 14052 is alleged may file an action pursuant
12to that section in the superior court of the county in which the
13political subdivision is located.

14

14056.  

This chapter does not apply to special elections.

15

14057.  

This chapter shall become operative on January 1, 2018.



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