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AB-1573 Elections: voting.(2009-2010)

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AB1573:v97#DOCUMENT

Assembly Bill No. 1573
CHAPTER 548

An act to amend Sections 13314 and 15104 of the Elections Code, relating to elections.

[ Approved by Governor  October 11, 2009. Filed with Secretary of State  October 11, 2009. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1573, Committee on Elections and Redistricting. Elections: voting.
Existing law authorizes an elector to seek a writ of mandate alleging that an error or omission has occurred, or is about to occur, in the placing of a name on, or in the printing of, a ballot, sample ballot, voter pamphlet, or other official matter, or that any neglect of duty has occurred, or is about to occur.
This bill would require that the Secretary of State be named as a real party in interest in writ proceedings concerning specific measures and candidates.
Under existing law, a voter’s registration information, including the voter’s signature, is to be kept confidential except for specified circumstances. Under existing law, specified persons may observe and challenge the manner in which vote by mail ballots are handled and processed by county elections officials. Existing law requires that these observers be permitted sufficiently close access to the process to observe and make challenges as to whether established procedures are being followed by persons handling vote by mail ballots.
This bill would require that vote by mail voter observers be permitted sufficiently close access to observe vote by mail ballot return envelopes and the signatures thereon.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 13314 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

13314.
 (a) (1) An elector may seek a writ of mandate alleging that an error or omission has occurred, or is about to occur, in the placing of a name on, or in the printing of, a ballot, sample ballot, voter pamphlet, or other official matter, or that any neglect of duty has occurred, or is about to occur.
(2) A peremptory writ of mandate shall issue only upon proof of both of the following:
(A) That the error, omission, or neglect is in violation of this code or the Constitution.
(B) That issuance of the writ will not substantially interfere with the conduct of the election.
(3) The action or appeal shall have priority over all other civil matters.
(4) The Secretary of State shall be named as a respondent or a real party in interest in any proceeding under this section concerning a measure or a candidate described in Section 15375, except for a candidate for judge of the superior court.
(b) Venue for a proceeding under this section shall be exclusively in Sacramento County in any of the following cases:
(1) The Secretary of State is named as a real party in interest or as a respondent.
(2) A candidate for statewide elective office is named as a party.
(3) A statewide measure that is to be placed on the ballot is the subject of the proceeding.

SEC. 2.

 Section 15104 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

15104.
 (a) The processing of vote by mail ballot return envelopes, and the processing and counting of vote by mail ballots, shall be open to the public, both prior to and after the election.
(b) A member of the county grand jury, and at least one member each of the Republican county central committee, the Democratic county central committee, and of any other party with a candidate on the ballot, and any other interested organization, shall be permitted to observe and challenge the manner in which the vote by mail ballots are handled, from the processing of vote by mail ballot return envelopes through the counting and disposition of the ballots.
(c) The elections official shall notify vote by mail voter observers and the public at least 48 hours in advance of the dates, times, and places where vote by mail ballots will be processed and counted.
(d) Notwithstanding paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 2194, vote by mail voter observers shall be allowed sufficiently close access to enable them to observe the vote by mail ballot return envelopes and the signatures thereon and challenge whether those individuals handling vote by mail ballots are following established procedures, including all of the following:
(1) Verifying signatures and addresses on the vote by mail ballot return envelopes by comparing them to voter registration information.
(2) Duplicating accurately damaged or defective ballots.
(3) Securing vote by mail ballots to prevent tampering with them before they are counted on election day.
(e) A vote by mail voter observer shall not interfere with the orderly processing of vote by mail ballot return envelopes or the processing and counting of vote by mail ballots, including the touching or handling of the ballots.