BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          Date of Hearing:  July 15, 2015


                  ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON ELECTIONS AND REDISTRICTING


                           Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, Chair


          SB  
          439 (Allen) - As Amended June 11, 2015


          SENATE VOTE:  23-12


          SUBJECT:  Election procedures.


          SUMMARY:  Permits elections officials to offer conditional voter  
          registration at satellite offices prior to election day, as  
          specified.  Establishes processes and procedures for the review  
          and approval of ballot on demand systems and electronic poll  
          books, as defined, for use in California elections.   
          Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Permits a county elections official to offer conditional voter  
            registration and provisional voting at satellite offices on  
            days prior to election day, in addition to election day.

          2)Defines a "ballot on demand system" to mean a self-contained  
            system that allows users to do any of the following on an  
            as-needed basis:

             a)   Manufacture or finish ballot sheets or unfinished ballot  
               cards;

             b)   Manufacture or finish card stock; or, 








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             c)   Finish unfinished ballot cards into ballot cards.

          3)Requires the Secretary of State (SOS) to adopt regulations  
            governing the manufacture, finishing, quality standards,  
            distribution, and inventory control of ballot on demand  
            systems.  Requires the SOS to approve each ballot on demand  
            system before deploying the system for use in California  
            elections.  

          4)Requires a ballot on demand system vendor, not later than five  
            working days before the SOS begins his or her initial  
            inspection, to disclose to the SOS in writing any known flaw  
            or defect in its ballot on demand system that could adversely  
            affect the future casting or tallying of ballots.  Requires a  
            ballot on demand system vendor, once the system is approved by  
            the SOS, to notify the SOS and the affected local elections  
            officials in writing within two business days after it  
            discovers any flaw or defect in its ballot on demand system  
            that could adversely affect the future casting or tallying of  
            votes.

          5)Prohibits a jurisdiction from purchasing, leasing, or  
            contracting for a ballot on demand system unless the ballot on  
            demand system has been certified by the SOS.  Prohibits a  
            vendor, company, or person from selling, leasing, or  
            contracting with a jurisdiction for the use of a ballot on  
            demand system unless the ballot on demand system has been  
            certified by the SOS.  Provides that a jurisdiction is not  
            precluded from conducting research and development of a ballot  
            on demand system.  Prohibits a ballot on demand system that is  
            used for research and development purposes from being used in  
            an election unless the system has been certified by the SOS.  



          6)Requires the SOS to promulgate regulations for the purpose of  
            certifying ballot on demand systems.  









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          7)Defines an "electronic poll book" to mean an electronic list  
            of registered voters that may be transported to the polling  
            location.  Requires an electronic poll book to contain the  
            same information that is required on the paper roster pursuant  
            to existing law. 

          8)Prohibits an electronic poll book from being used unless it  
            has been certified by the SOS.  

          9)Requires the SOS to adopt and publish electronic poll book  
            standards and regulations governing the certification and use  
            of electronic poll books.  Prohibits the SOS from certifying  
            an electronic poll book unless it fulfills the requirements of  
            this bill and the SOS's standards and regulations.  

          EXISTING LAW:   


          1)Provides that a properly executed affidavit of voter  
            registration shall be deemed effective upon receipt by the  
            elections official if postmarked or received on or before the  
            15th day prior to an election to be held in the registrant's  
            precinct.



          2)Authorizes a person who is otherwise qualified to register to  
            vote to complete a conditional voter registration and cast a  
            provisional ballot during the 14 days immediately preceding an  
            election or on election day, as specified.  

          3)Requires county elections officials to offer conditional voter  
            registration and provisional voting at its permanent offices,  
            and permits them to offer this type of registration and voting  
            at satellite offices on election day. 

          4)Specifies that conditional voter registration becomes  
            operative on January 1 of the year following the year in which  
            the SOS certifies that the state has a statewide voter  








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            registration database that complies with the requirements of  
            the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA).  It is  
            anticipated that this statewide voter database will become  
            operative in 2016, therefore conditional voter registration  
            will commence in 2017.

          5)Requires the SOS to adopt regulations governing the  
            manufacture, finishing, quality standards, distribution, and  
            inventory control of ballot cards and requires the biennial  
            inspection of the manufacturing, finishing, and storage  
            facilities involving ballot cards. 

          6)Requires the SOS to approve each ballot card manufacturer or  
            finisher before a manufacturer or finisher provides ballot  
            cards for use in California elections.

          7)Requires a ballot card manufacturer or finisher, not later  
            than five working days before the SOS begins his or her  
            initial inspection, to disclose to the SOS in writing any  
            known flaw or defect in its ballot card manufacturing or  
            finishing process or manufactured or finished ballot cards  
            that could adversely affect the future casting or tallying of  
            ballots.  Requires a ballot card manufacturer or finisher,  
            once approved by the SOS, to notify the SOS and the affected  
            local elections officials in writing within two business days  
            after it discovers any flaw or defect in its ballot card  
            manufacturing or finishing process or manufactured or finished  
            ballot cards that could adversely affect the future casting or  
            tallying of votes.
          8)Requires each precinct board to keep a roster of voters who  
            have voted at the precinct, as specified.  

          9)Requires an elections official to furnish to the precinct  
            officers, among other things, printed copies of the index to  
            the affidavits of registration for that precinct.  

          FISCAL EFFECT:   Unknown










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          COMMENTS:  

          1)Purpose of the Bill:  According to the author:  


               SB 439 would allow a county elections official to offer  
               voter registration and voting at satellite offices during  
               the entire 14 days immediately preceding Election Day and  
               establish criteria for the use of ballot on-demand (BOD)  
               printing systems and electronic poll books to facilitate  
               this process as well as other early voting efforts.





               Legislation providing for Election Day voter registration  
               in California was approved in 2012 but will not be  
               implemented in until 2017.  Under this pending system  
               county elections officials must offer voter registration  
               and concurrent voting by provisional ballot to any  
               qualified elector at the official's office during the 14  
               days following the normal close of registration through  
               Election Day.  They may also offer this convenience to  
               electors at satellite office locations but can only do so  
               on Election Day itself.





               BOD printing systems are used in elections official's  
               offices and other locations in order to provide any voter  
               with his or her proper ballot regardless of the precinct to  
               which the voter is assigned.  While some counties are  
               currently using BOD printing systems that have been  
               approved by prior Secretaries of State, current statutes  
               require the approval process to be conducted on a county by  








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               county (and location by location) basis which is very  
               cumbersome and serves as a disincentive for counties to  
               participate.  For instance, if a single county wants to use  
               a BOD system, that county would have to seek separate  
               approval for each location where they anticipate usage.





               Electronic poll books will ultimately permit early voting  
               sites and traditional polling places to be linked to state  
               and/or county voter databases which could be accessed for  
               voting integrity purposes and eventually reduce the need  
               for expensive and time consuming provisional balloting.





               As a way of accommodating what should be an enormous number  
               of last-minute registrants, SB 439 will allow county  
               elections officials to offer voter registration and voting  
               at satellite offices during the entire 14 days immediately  
               preceding Election Day in addition to their main offices.   
               In order to facilitate this process more securely,  
               cost-effectively and make the experience quicker and more  
               convenient for voters, SB 439 will also establish clear  
               statutory authority and criteria for the use of BOD  
               printing systems and electronic poll books.  


          2)VoteCal: VoteCal is a federally required statewide voter  
            registration database that complies with the requirements of  
            HAVA.  It will provide a single, uniform, centralized voter  
            registration database. According to the SOS's office,  
            VoteCal's implementation will begin with five pilot counties  
            in July 2015, and the remaining counties will deploy in groups  
            with full deployment expected in June 2016.  VoteCal's many  








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            functions will provide improved service to the voters of  
            California by connecting the SOS and all 58 county elections  
            offices together to improve the voter registration process,  
            provide a publicly available website which will allow voters  
            to register online, and provide a single, official statewide  
            database of voter registration information.

          3)Pending Same-Day Registration in California:  In 2012, the  
            Legislature approved and Governor signed AB 1436 (Feuer),  
            Chapter 497, Statutes of 2012, which established conditional  
            voter registration, also known as "same-day" registration, in  
            California.  Specifically, current law authorizes a person who  
            is otherwise qualified to register to vote to complete a  
            conditional voter registration and cast a provisional ballot  
            at the elections official's permanent office during the 14  
            days immediately preceding an election or on election day.  In  
            addition, current law permits conditional voter registration  
            at elections official's satellite office on election day only.  
             After receiving a conditional voter registration, current law  
            requires an elections official to determine the registrant's  
            eligibility to register to vote and validate the information,  
            as specified.  If the conditional voter registration is deemed  
            effective, the registrant's provisional ballot is included in  
            the official canvass.



          According to the author, while current law requires county  
            elections officials to offer voter registration and concurrent  
            voting by provisional ballot at the official's permanent  
            office during the 14 days following the normal close of  
            registration through election day, it limits this convenience  
            to electors at satellite office locations to only election  
            day.  This bill instead authorizes a county elections official  
            to offer conditional voter registration and provisional voting  
            at satellites offices on other days instead of only on  
            election day.

          4)Election Day Voter Registration in Other States:  According to  








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            a 2015 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures  
            (NCSL), 10 states and the District of Columbia offer same-day  
            registration, which allows any qualified resident of the state  
            to go to the polls or an election official's office on  
            election day, to register to vote that day, and cast a ballot.  
             Hawaii, similar to California, has enacted same-day  
            registration, but has not yet implemented it.  According to  
            the report, Illinois piloted same-day registration at limited  
            locations during the 2014 general election and made it  
            permanent earlier this year, with a statewide implementation  
            date in June of this year.  



          5)Ballot on Demand Systems:  A ballot on demand system is a  
            device that can print ballots on demand for use in elections.   
            In practice, ballot on demand systems are used in elections  
            official's offices and other locations in order to provide any  
            voter with his or her proper ballot regardless of the precinct  
            to which the voter is assigned.  Proponents argue that ballot  
            on demand systems help reduce election administrative costs by  
            limiting the need to pre-print and transport ballots to  
            polling places.  



          Current law requires a ballot on demand system to be approved  
            using the same approval process that is in place for  
            commercial ballot printing operations.  Consequently, a ballot  
            on demand system's approval process must be conducted on a  
            county by county (and location by location) basis.   For  
            instance, if a single county wants to use a ballot on demand  
            system, that county would have to seek separate approval for  
            each location where they anticipate usage.  According to the  
            author, this is very cumbersome and may serve as a  
            disincentive for counties to participate.  According to the  
            SOS's website, 18 ballot on demand systems have been approved  
            for use in 13 counties.  The counties of Butte, Sacramento,  
            and Santa Barbara each have two ballot on demand systems  








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            approved for use at different locations in their respective  
            counties and San Bernardino has been approved to use three  
            systems at three different locations within the county.  

          This bill makes significant changes to the current ballot on  
            demand approval process.  First, this bill redefines what it  
            means to be a ballot on demand system.  Specifically, this  
            bill defines a ballot on demand system to mean a  
            self-contained system that allows users to do the following on  
            an as-needed basis: manufacture or finish ballot sheets or  
            unfinished ballot cards; manufacture or finish card stock; or,  
            finish unfinished ballot cards into ballot cards.  In  
            addition, instead of requiring ballot on demand systems to be  
            approved similar to ballot printing operations, this bill  
            creates a new certification and approval process for ballot on  
            demand systems.  Specifically, this bill requires the SOS to  
            adopt regulations governing and certifying a ballot on demand  
            system for use in California elections, as specified.   
            Moreover, this bill requires the SOS to approve each ballot on  
            demand system before the system is deployed for use in an  
            election.  Finally, this bill prohibits a jurisdiction from  
            purchasing and a vendor from selling a ballot on demand system  
            unless the system has been certified by the SOS, as specified.  
             
          1)Electronic Poll Books:  An electronic poll book is an  
            electronic version of the traditional paper poll book which  
            contains a list of the registered voters in each precinct or  
            district.  An electronic poll book typically looks like a  
            tablet or laptop computer and is used to more quickly and  
            accurately check in a voter at his or her precinct or voting  
            sites.  Many electronic poll books have a variety of other  
            functionalities.  For example, many electronic poll books have  
            the capability to allow a poll worker to look up voters from  
            the entire county or state, connect to a county or state voter  
            registration database, notify a poll worker if a voter has  
            already voted, allow a voter to sign in electronically,  
            produce turnout numbers and lists of those who have voted, and  
            receive immediate updates on who has voted in other voting  
            jurisdictions.   








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          In California, however, electronic poll books are in their  
            infancy and simply serve as an electronic list of registered  
            voters in the precinct or district.  There are approximately  
            three counties (Nevada, Solano, and Humboldt) that currently  
            use electronic poll books on an experimental basis.  According  
            to proponents, despite their current limited capacity,  
            electronic poll books are beneficial to poll workers and  
            voters.  They provide poll workers with the ability to locate  
            a voter's information more quickly and accurately compared to  
            the traditional paper list.  In addition, electronic poll  
            books allow poll workers to more easily redirect a voter who  
            is at an incorrect polling place to the correct location.     

          This bill breaks new ground and creates a new election-related  
            policy that permits a county elections official to use new  
            technology to assist in checking voters in at polling places  
            and other voting sites and sets up processes and procedures  
            for the review and approval of electronic poll books for use  
            in California elections.  Specifically, this bill defines an  
            electronic poll book to mean an electronic list of registered  
            voters that may be transported to the polling location and  
            requires it to contain the same information that is required  
            on the paper roster pursuant to existing law.  In addition,  
            this bill requires the SOS to adopt and publish electronic  
            poll book standards and regulations governing the  
            certification and use of electronic poll books and prohibits  
            an electronic poll book from being used unless it has been  
            certified by the SOS.  In doing so, this bill will ensure this  
            technology is secure and promotes the integrity of the  
            election.

          1)Presidential Commission on Election Administration:  The  
            Presidential Commission on Election Administration was  
            established by Executive Order on March 28, 2013.  Its mission  
            is to identify best practices in election administration and  
            to make recommendations to improve the voting experience.  In  
            2014, after a six-month extensive examination of how elections  
            are conducted throughout the United States, the Commission  








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            submitted a report and recommendations to the President of the  
            United States.  The report focused not only on the problems of  
            election administration for all voters, but also on the effect  
            of administrative failures on specific populations such as  
            voters with disabilities, those with limited English  
            proficiency, and military and overseas voters.  The Commission  
            made various recommendations and suggested best practices.   
            The four main recommendations focus on voter registration,  
            access to the polls, polling place management, and voting  
            technology.  Included in the polling place management  
            recommendation, the Commission recommended that jurisdictions  
            transition to using electronic poll books.  Specifically, the  
            report stated that the electronic poll book "provides greater  
            flexibility to those who are checking in people to vote,  
            compared to the traditional paper list.  In some cases, the  
            [electronic poll book] has real-time access to the county or  
            state voter list, which allows poll workers even greater  
            flexibility in dealing with voter registration problems that  
            emerge on Election Day."  In addition, the report contended  
            that electronic poll books can "help reduce poll worker errors  
            frequently associated with paper-based voter check-in process"  
            as poll workers "sometimes fail to check-in voters, distribute  
            the wrong ballots, or send voters to the wrong polling place."  
             Moreover, the report states that electronic poll books can be  
            "instrumental in gathering data on wait times and traffic, as  
            they keep track of when voters arrive and check-in" and "save  
            money otherwise spent each election on the generation of  
            thousands of pages of voter rolls."  



          2)Other States:  According to a 2015 NCSL report, as states  
            explore new technology to facilitate the voting process, the  
            use of electronic poll books is becoming increasingly  
            prevalent.  According to the report, there are jurisdictions  
            in 32 states that currently use electronic poll books.  The  
            report states that in some states, the use of electronic poll  
            books is specifically in statute.  However in other states,  
            while electronic poll books are mentioned in statute, their  








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            use is not specifically authorized.  Moreover, various states'  
            statutes do not mention electronic poll books, but have  
            state-level election organizations that issue regulations for  
            their use.  Finally, according to the report a few states have  
            some jurisdictions that use electronic poll books, but have no  
            statewide guidance on their use.  



          As mentioned above, electronic poll books have the potential to  
            offer many functionalities that help reduce cost and increase  
            efficiencies in the conduct of elections.  While California  
            law does not specifically address electronic poll books, in  
            practice, electronic poll books are being used by poll workers  
            as a tool to more quickly and more accurately check in voters  
                             at polling places.  This bill establishes clear statutory  
            authority to allow county elections officials to use  
            electronic poll books in elections and requires the SOS to  
            adopt and publish electronic poll book standards and  
            regulations governing the certification and use of electronic  
            poll books.  This new policy change will ensure electronic  
            poll books are certified before use, thereby ensuring they  
            meet certain security measures and contain safeguards to  
            protect against fraud and manipulation.   


          3)Arguments in Support:  In support, California Common Cause  
            writes:


               Only 18 percent of eligible Californians cast ballots in  
               the June 2014 primary election - the lowest voter turnout  
               rate in nearly one century.  There are many reasons why  
               Californians do not vote, including lack of voter  
               engagement and cynicism; however, according to a March 2015  
               PPIC survey, the top reason registered voters gave for not  
               voting was being too busy or lacking the time to vote.  SB  
               439 will help combat the trend of ever-decreasing voter  
               turnout by providing citizens with more accessible and  








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               convenient options for registering to vote and actually  
               voting.  


          4)Related Legislation:  AB 391 (Gallagher), requires a person to  
            provide proof of residence to conditionally register to vote,  
            as specified.  AB 391 failed passage in this committee. 


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          California Association of Clerks and Election Officials 


          California Common Cause
          California State Council of the Service Employees International  
          Union


          CALPIRG
          Consumer Watchdog


          Secretary of State Alex Padilla


          Opposition


          None on file.











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          Analysis Prepared by:Nichole Becker / E. & R. / (916)  
          319-2094