BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     SB 589


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          SENATE THIRD READING


          SB  
          589 (Block)


          As Amended  June 18, 2015


          Majority vote


          SENATE VOTE:  27-10


           ------------------------------------------------------------------ 
          |Committee       |Votes|Ayes                  |Noes                |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |----------------+-----+----------------------+--------------------|
          |Elections       |6-0  |Ridley-Thomas, Grove, |                    |
          |                |     |Gatto, Gordon,        |                    |
          |                |     |Mullin, Perea         |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |----------------+-----+----------------------+--------------------|
          |Judiciary       |8-1  |Mark Stone, Alejo,    |Wagner              |
          |                |     |Chau, Chiu, Cristina  |                    |
          |                |     |Garcia, Holden,       |                    |
          |                |     |Maienschein,          |                    |
          |                |     |O'Donnell             |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |----------------+-----+----------------------+--------------------|
          |Appropriations  |11-4 |Gomez, Bloom, Bonta,  |Bigelow, Gallagher, |
          |                |     |Calderon, Daly,       |Jones, Wagner       |
          |                |     |Eggman, Eduardo       |                    |
          |                |     |Garcia, Quirk,        |                    |
          |                |     |Rendon, Weber, Wood   |                    |








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          SUMMARY:  Authorizes an individual with a disability who is  
          otherwise qualified to vote to complete an affidavit of  
          registration with reasonable accommodations as needed and  
          requires that a person be presumed mentally competent to vote,  
          regardless of his or her conservatorship status, if the court  
          finds that the person can communicate, with or without  
          reasonable accommodations, a desire to participate in the voting  
          process.  Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Contains findings and declarations that federal disability  
            nondiscrimination laws, including Title II of the federal  
            American with Disabilities Act, entitle people with  
            disabilities to reasonable accommodations, as needed, to  
            participate in public activities such as voting.  Contains  
            further findings and declarations that by explicitly adding  
            the concept of reasonable accommodation to California law on  
            voter qualification, this bill brings the state into  
            compliance with federal standards.


          2)Expressly provides that an individual with a disability who is  
            otherwise qualified to vote may complete an affidavit of  
            registration with reasonable accommodations as needed.  


          3)Expressly provides that an individual with a disability who is  
            under a conservatorship may be registered to vote if he or she  
            has not been disqualified from voting.  


          4)Provides that a person is presumed competent to vote  
            regardless of his or her conservatorship status.  









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          5)Deletes provisions of law that require a person to be deemed  
            mentally incompetent, and therefore disqualified from voting,  
            if a court or jury, as specified, finds that the person is not  
            capable of completing an affidavit of voter registration in  
            accordance with existing law, and instead requires a person to  
            be deemed mentally incompetent, and therefore disqualified  
            from voting, if a court or jury, as specified, finds by clear  
            and convincing evidence that the person cannot communicate,  
            with or without reasonable accommodations, a desire to  
            participate in the voting process.


          6)Prohibits a person from being disqualified from voting on the  
            basis that the person completed the affidavit of voter  
            registration with reasonable accommodations. 


          7)Makes other technical, conforming changes.




          FISCAL EFFECT:  According to the Assembly Appropriations  
          Committee, likely minor costs to the courts and to county  
          elections officials.




          COMMENTS:  According to the author, "Under current law adults  
          with developmental disabilities under conservatorships are  
          routinely being disenfranchised at extremely high levels.  A  
          review of 61 conservatorship cases involving adults with  
          developmental disabilities in Los Angeles County found that  
          close to 90% of conservatees in those cases had been  
          disqualified from voting due to their actual or perceived  
          inability to complete the voter registration affidavit.   
          Furthermore, this review found that probate attorneys are being  








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          trained to disqualify adults under conservatorships from voting  
          when he/she are not able to sign a registration affidavit.  SB  
          589 will allow disabled individuals under conservatorship to  
          retain their right to vote unless it is shown by clear and  
          convincing evidence that the individual cannot communicate, with  
          or without reasonable accommodations, a desire to participate in  
          the voting process?"




          Last year the Disability and Abuse Project of Spectrum Institute  
          filed a formal complaint with the United States Department of  
          Justice's Civil Rights Division against the Los Angeles Superior  
          Court regarding their application of existing state law deeming  
          conservatees ineligible to register to vote if they are not  
          capable of completing an affidavit of voter registration.  The  
          complaint asserted that this practice constitutes a violation of  
          the federal VRA's prohibition on use of a test or device as a  
          prerequisite for voter registration.  




          That complaint was the impetus for AB 1311 (Bradford), Chapter  
          591, Statutes of 2014, which clarified the voting protections  
          for conservatees.  Specifically, AB 1311 prohibited a person,  
          including a conservatee, from being disqualified from voting on  
          the basis that he or she signs the affidavit of voter  
          registration with mark or a cross, signs the affidavit of voter  
          registration with a signature stamp, or completes the affidavit  
          of registration with the assistance of another person.  AB 1311  
          ensured federal and state laws related to voter registration  
          assistance are applied equally to any individual who seeks to  
          register to vote.  This bill builds upon AB 1311 by further  
          clarifying conservatee voting rights and modifying the standard  
          for determining when a disabled, conserved individual is not  
          competent to participate in the voting process. 









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          Please see the policy committee analysis for a full discussion  
          of this bill.




          Analysis Prepared by:                                             
                          Nichole Becker / E. & R. / (916) 319-2094  FN:  
          0001246