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AB-840 Elections: vote by mail and provisional ballots.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 10/16/2017 02:00 PM
AB840:v93#DOCUMENT

Assembly Bill No. 840
CHAPTER 820

An act to amend Sections 3019 and 15360 of the Elections Code, relating to elections.

[ Approved by Governor  October 15, 2017. Filed with Secretary of State  October 15, 2017. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 840, Quirk. Elections: vote by mail and provisional ballots.
(1) Under existing law, a vote by mail voter must sign the vote by mail ballot envelope. This envelope contains, among other information, a declaration under penalty of perjury that the voter resides within the precinct in which he or she is voting and is the person whose name appears on the envelope. If an elections official determines that a voter has failed to sign this identification envelope, the elections official is prohibited from rejecting the vote by mail ballot if the voter signs the identification envelope at the election official’s office before 5 p.m. on the eighth day after the election or the voter completes and submits an unsigned ballot statement, as specified. Existing law requires certain instructions to accompany the unsigned ballot statement, including the instruction that a voter may submit his or her completed unsigned ballot statement by facsimile transmission to the local elections official instead of mailing or delivering the completed unsigned ballot statement to the local elections official. Existing law requires an elections official to include the unsigned ballot statement and instructions on his or her Internet Web site, and to provide the election official’s mailing address and facsimile transmission number on that site.
This bill would require the unsigned ballot statement to be signed under penalty of perjury, and it would also include in that statement a representation that the voter is a resident of the precinct in which he or she voted and is the person whose name appears on the vote by mail ballot envelope. This bill would authorize a voter to submit his or her completed unsigned ballot statement to the local elections official by email by requiring that the instructions accompanying unsigned ballot statements inform a voter that a completed unsigned ballot statement can be submitted by email. The bill would also require the local elections official to include his or her email address on the Internet Web page containing the unsigned ballot statement and instructions. By requiring local election officials to take additional actions related to unsigned ballot statements, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program. By requiring the unsigned ballot statement to be signed under penalty of perjury, this bill would also create a new crime.
(2) Existing law requires an elections official, immediately upon the close of the polls, to conduct a semifinal official canvass by tabulating vote by mail and precinct ballots and compiling the results. No later than the Thursday following the election, existing law requires the elections official to conduct an official canvass of the ballots cast in an election, including counting any valid vote by mail and provisional ballots that were not included in the semifinal official canvass. Existing law requires an elections official, during the official canvass of an election in which a voting system is used, to conduct a public manual tally of the ballots tabulated by the voting system, including vote by mail ballots, cast in 1% of the precincts chosen at random, as specified.
This bill would specify that the 1% manual tally is a tally of the ballots canvassed in the semifinal official canvass and does not include provisional ballots.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that with regard to certain mandates no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
With regard to any other mandates, this bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs so mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 3019 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

3019.
 (a) Upon receiving a vote by mail ballot, the elections official shall compare the signature on the identification envelope with either of the following to determine if the signatures compare:
(1) The signature appearing on the voter’s affidavit of registration or any previous affidavit of registration of the voter.
(2) The signature appearing on a form issued by an elections official that contains the voter’s signature and that is part of the voter’s registration record.
(b) In comparing signatures pursuant to subdivision (a), the elections official may use facsimiles of voters’ signatures, provided that the method of preparing and displaying the facsimiles complies with the law.
(c) (1) If upon conducting the comparison of signatures pursuant to subdivision (a) the elections official determines that the signatures compare, he or she shall deposit the ballot, still in the identification envelope, in a ballot container in his or her office.
(2) If upon conducting the comparison of signatures pursuant to subdivision (a) the elections official determines that the signatures do not compare, the identification envelope shall not be opened and the ballot shall not be counted. The cause of the rejection shall be written on the face of the identification envelope.
(d) The variation of a signature caused by the substitution of initials for the first or middle name, or both, shall not be grounds for the elections official to determine that the signatures do not compare.
(e) In comparing signatures pursuant to this section, an elections official may use signature verification technology. If signature verification technology determines the signatures do not compare, the elections official shall not reject the ballot unless he or she visually examines the signatures and verifies that the signatures do not compare.
(f) (1) (A) Notwithstanding any other law, if an elections official determines that a voter has failed to sign the identification envelope, the elections official shall not reject the vote by mail ballot if the voter does any of the following:
(i) Signs the identification envelope at the office of the elections official during regular business hours before 5 p.m. on the eighth day after the election.
(ii) Before 5 p.m. on the eighth day after the election, completes and submits an unsigned ballot statement in substantially the following form:
“UNSIGNED BALLOT STATEMENT
I,, am a registered voter of __________ County,
State of California. I declare under penalty of perjury that I requested and returned a vote by mail ballot and that I have not and will not vote more than one ballot in this election. I am a resident of the precinct in which I have voted, and I am the person whose name appears on the vote by mail ballot envelope. I understand that if I commit or attempt any fraud in connection with voting, or if I aid or abet fraud or attempt to aid or abet fraud in connection with voting, I may be convicted of a felony punishable by imprisonment for 16 months or two or three years. I understand that my failure to sign this statement means that my vote by mail ballot will be invalidated.
Voter’s Signature
Address”
(iii) Before the close of the polls on election day, completes and submits an unsigned ballot statement, in the form described in clause (ii), to a polling place within the county or a ballot dropoff box.
(B) If timely submitted, the elections official shall accept any completed unsigned ballot statement. Upon receipt of the unsigned ballot statement, the elections official shall compare the voter’s signature on the statement in the manner provided by this section.
(i) If the elections official determines that the signatures compare, he or she shall attach the unsigned ballot statement to the identification envelope and deposit the ballot, still in the identification envelope, in a ballot container in his or her office.
(ii) If the elections official determines that the signatures do not compare, the identification envelope shall not be opened and the ballot shall not be counted.
(C) An elections official may use methods other than those described in subparagraph (A) to obtain a voter’s signature on an unsigned identification envelope.
(2) Instructions shall accompany the unsigned ballot statement in substantially the following form:
“READ THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY BEFORE COMPLETING THE STATEMENT. FAILURE TO FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS MAY CAUSE YOUR BALLOT NOT TO COUNT.
1. In order to ensure that your vote by mail ballot will be counted, your statement should be completed and returned as soon as possible so that it can reach the elections official of the county in which your precinct is located no later than 5 p.m. on the eighth day after the election.
2. You must sign your name on the line above (Voter’s Signature).
3. Place the statement into a mailing envelope addressed to your local elections official. Mail, deliver, or have delivered the completed statement to the elections official. Be sure there is sufficient postage if mailed and that the address of the elections official is correct.
4. If you do not wish to send the statement by mail or have it delivered, you may submit your completed statement by facsimile or email transmission to your local elections official, or submit your completed statement to a polling place within the county or a ballot dropoff box before the close of the polls on election day.
(3) An elections official shall include the unsigned ballot statement and instructions described in this subdivision on his or her Internet Web site, and shall provide the elections official’s mailing address, email address, and facsimile transmission number on the Internet Web page containing the statement and instructions.
(g) A ballot shall not be removed from its identification envelope until the time for processing ballots. A ballot shall not be rejected for cause after the identification envelope has been opened.

SEC. 2.

 Section 15360 of the Elections Code, as amended by Section 1 of Chapter 88 of the Statutes of 2017, is amended to read:

15360.
 (a) During the official canvass of every election in which a voting system is used, the official conducting the election shall conduct a public manual tally of the ballots tabulated by those devices, including vote by mail ballots, using either of the following methods:
(1) (A) A public manual tally of the ballots canvassed in the semifinal official canvass, including vote by mail ballots but not including provisional ballots, cast in 1 percent of the precincts chosen at random by the elections official. If 1 percent of the precincts is less than one whole precinct, the tally shall be conducted in one precinct chosen at random by the elections official.
(B) (i) In addition to the 1 percent manual tally, the elections official shall, for each race not included in the initial group of precincts, count one additional precinct. The manual tally shall apply only to the race not previously counted.
(ii) The elections official may, at his or her discretion, select additional precincts for the manual tally, which may include vote by mail and provisional ballots.
(2) A two-part public manual tally, which includes both of the following:
(A) A public manual tally of the ballots canvassed in the semifinal official canvass, not including vote by mail or provisional ballots, cast in 1 percent of the precincts chosen at random by the elections official and conducted pursuant to paragraph (1).
(B) (i) A public manual tally of not less than 1 percent of the vote by mail ballots canvassed in the semifinal official canvass. Batches of vote by mail ballots shall be chosen at random by the elections official.
(ii) For purposes of this section, a “batch” means a set of ballots tabulated by the voting system devices, for which the voting system can produce a report of the votes cast.
(iii) (I) In addition to the 1 percent manual tally of the vote by mail ballots, the elections official shall, for each race not included in the initial 1 percent manual tally of vote by mail ballots, count one additional batch of vote by mail ballots. The manual tally shall apply only to the race not previously counted.
(II) The elections official may, at his or her discretion, select additional batches for the manual tally, which may include vote by mail and provisional ballots.
(b) If vote by mail ballots are cast on a direct recording electronic voting system at the office of an elections official or at a satellite location of the office of an elections official pursuant to Section 3018, the official conducting the election shall either include those ballots in the manual tally conducted pursuant to paragraph (1) or (2) of subdivision (a), or conduct a public manual tally of those ballots cast on no fewer than 1 percent of all the direct recording electronic voting machines used in that election chosen at random by the elections official.
(c) The elections official shall use either a random number generator or other method specified in regulations that shall be adopted by the Secretary of State to randomly choose the initial precincts, batches of vote by mail ballots, or direct recording electronic voting machines subject to the public manual tally.
(d) The elections official shall not randomly choose the initial precincts or select an additional precinct for the manual tally until after the close of the polls on election day.
(e) The manual tally shall be a public process, with the official conducting the election providing at least a five-day public notice of the time and place of the manual tally and of the time and place of the selection of the precincts, batches, or direct recording electronic voting machines subject to the public manual tally before conducting the selection and tally.
(f) The official conducting the election shall include a report on the results of the 1 percent manual tally in the certification of the official canvass of the vote. This report shall identify any discrepancies between the machine count and the manual tally and a description of how each of these discrepancies was resolved. In resolving a discrepancy involving a vote recorded by means of a punchcard voting system or by electronic or electromechanical vote tabulating devices, the voter verified paper audit trail shall govern if there is a discrepancy between it and the electronic record.

SEC. 3.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution for certain costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district because, in that regard, this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.
However, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains other costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.