Amended in Assembly June 23, 2015

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 regularlybegin delete-end deletebegin insert end insertscheduled election in that political subdivision being at least 25% less than the average voter turnout within the political subdivision for the previous 4 statewide general electionsbegin insert, except as specifiedend insert.

This bill would require a court to implement appropriate remedies upon a violation of this prohibition. The bill would authorize a voter who resides in a political subdivision where a violation is alleged tobegin insert file an action in Superior Court toend insert 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:

P2    1

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 least 25 percent less than the average voter turnout within that
16political 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.  

begin deleteA end deletebegin insert(a)end insertbegin insertend insertbegin insertExcept as provided in subdivision (b), a end insertpolitical
22subdivision shall not hold an election other than on a statewide
23election date if holding an election on a nonconcurrent date has
24previously resulted in a significant decrease in voter turnout.

begin insert

25(b) A political subdivision may hold an election other than on
26a statewide election date if, by January 1, 2018, the political
27subdivision has adopted a plan to consolidate a future election
P3    1with a statewide election not later than the November 8, 2022,
2statewide general election.

end insert
3

14053.  

Upon a finding of a violation ofbegin insert subdivision (a) ofend insert
4 Section 14052, the court shall implement appropriate remedies,
5including the imposition of concurrent election dates for future
6elections and the upgrade of voting equipment or systems to do
7so. In imposing remedies pursuant to this section, a court may also
8require a county board of supervisors to approve consolidation
9pursuant to Section 10402.5.

10

14054.  

In an action to enforcebegin insert subdivision (a) ofend insert Section 14052,
11the court shall allow the prevailing plaintiff other than the state or
12political subdivision of the state, a reasonable attorney’s fee
13consistent with the standards established in Serrano v. Priest (1977)
1420 Cal.3d 25, 48-49, and litigation expenses including, but not
15limited to, expert witness fees and expenses as part of the costs.
16A prevailing defendant shall not recover any costs, unless the court
17finds the action to be frivolous, unreasonable, or without
18foundation.

19

14055.  

A voter who resides in a political subdivision where a
20violation ofbegin insert subdivision (a) ofend insert Section 14052 is alleged may file
21an action pursuant to that section in the superior court of the county
22in which the political subdivision is located.

23

14056.  

This chapter does not apply to special elections.

24

14057.  

This chapter shall become operative on January 1, 2018.



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