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AB-918 California Voting for All Act.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 07/06/2017 09:00 PM
AB918:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  July 06, 2017
Amended  IN  Assembly  May 30, 2017
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 29, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 918


Introduced by Assembly Members Bonta and Gomez
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Arambula, Cristina Garcia, Holden, and Kalra)
(Coauthor: Senator Hueso)

February 16, 2017


An act to amend Sections 12303, 14200, 14201, and 14282 of, and to add Section 4005.5 to, and to add Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 13400) to Division 13 of, the Elections Code, relating to elections.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 918, as amended, Bonta. California Voting for All Act.
(1) In counties where the Secretary of State has determined that it is appropriate, existing law requires each precinct board to post, in a conspicuous location in the polling place, at least one facsimile copy of the ballot with the ballot measures and ballot instructions printed in Spanish. Existing law requires that facsimile ballots be printed in other languages and posted in the same manner if a significant and substantial need is found by the Secretary of State.
This bill, the California Voting for All Act, would instead require the county elections official to post one facsimile copy of the ballot that is printed in Spanish or other applicable languages, as determined by the Secretary of State, and to provide at least one facsimile copy of the ballot for voters at the polling place to use as a reference when casting a private ballot. If the Secretary of State determines that the number of voting-age residents in a precinct who are members of a single language minority and who lack sufficient skills in English to vote without assistance exceeds 20% of the voting-age residents in that precinct, the bill would require the county elections official to post one facsimile copy of the ballot, as described above, and to provide at least 3 facsimile copies of the ballot for voters at the polling place to use as a reference when casting a private ballot. The bill would require, in polling places where facsimile copies of the ballot are necessary, precinct board members to be trained on the purpose and proper handling of facsimile copies of ballots.
The bill would authorize a voter to request that a facsimile copy of a ballot be sent by regular mail or electronic mail in the language of his or her preference, as specified. The bill would require a county elections official to prepare the requested facsimile copies no later than 10 days before election day and to process any requests for facsimile copies, as specified.
By imposing new duties on county elections officials, the bill would create a state-mandated local program.
(2) Existing law, the California Voter’s Choice Act, authorizes 14 specified counties, on or after January 1, 2018, and on or after January 1, 2020, any county except for the County of Los Angeles, to conduct any election as an all-mailed ballot election if certain conditions are satisfied. On or after January 1, 2020, the act authorizes the County of Los Angeles to conduct any election as a vote center election if certain conditions are satisfied, including conditions related to ballot dropoff locations and vote centers.
This bill would apply certain requirements relating to the availability and accessibility of non-English facsimile ballots and the public posting of voter information to the County of Los Angeles if it conducts a vote center election pursuant to the California Voter’s Choice Act. For an all-mailed ballot election or vote center election conducted pursuant to the California Voter’s Choice Act, the bill would require a county elections official to determine if a voter has previously identified a preferred language other than English, and would also require a county elections official to provide a facsimile copy of the ballot in the voter’s language preference, as specified, if the county is providing facsimile copies of the ballot in that language.
(3) Existing law states the intent of the Legislature that non-English-speaking citizens, like all other citizens, should be encouraged to vote and that appropriate efforts should be made to minimize obstacles to non-English-speaking citizens voting without assistance. Existing law requires an elections official to make reasonable efforts to recruit election officials who are fluent in a non-English language and in English, if the official finds that non-English-speaking citizens approximate 3% or more of the voting-age residents of a precinct, or if interested citizens or organizations provide information that the elections official believes indicates a need for voting assistance for qualified non-English-speaking citizens.
This bill would require county elections officials to report to the Secretary of State within 150 days following each statewide general election the number of individuals recruited to serve as members of precinct boards, including the number of those individuals recruited who are fluent in each language required to be represented at polling places. The bill would require, at each polling place, a precinct board member to identify the non-English languages spoken by him or her, other than English, by wearing a mechanism identifying the non-English languages spoken by that member.
(4) 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, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs 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.

 This act shall be known and may be cited as the California Voting for All Act.

SEC. 2.

 Section 4005.5 is added to the Elections Code, to read:

4005.5.
 An election conducted pursuant to Section 4005 or 4007 is subject to the following requirements:
(a) The provisions of Sections 14200 and 14201 that apply to polling places also apply to vote centers.
(b) Prior to every election, the county elections official shall determine if a voter has previously identified a preferred language other than English to the elections official or to the Secretary of State. If the voter’s precinct is required to have a facsimile copy of the ballot in the voter’s preferred language pursuant to Section 14201, the county elections official shall send to him or her by regular mail or electronic mail a facsimile copy of the ballot in that language. The voter shall receive the facsimile copy of the ballot before vote centers open pursuant to subparagraph (A) of paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) of Section 4005. The facsimile copy of the ballot shall be sufficiently distinct in appearance from a regular ballot to prevent voters from attempting to vote on the facsimile copy.

SEC. 3.

 Section 12303 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

12303.
 (a) A person who cannot read or write the English language is not eligible to act as a member of any precinct board.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature that non-English-speaking citizens, like all other citizens, should be encouraged to vote. Therefore, appropriate efforts should be made to minimize obstacles to non-English-speaking citizens voting without assistance.
(c) (1) Where the elections official finds that citizens described in subdivision (b) approximate 3 percent or more of the voting-age residents of a precinct, or if interested citizens or organizations provided information that the elections official believes indicates a need for voting assistance for qualified citizens described in subdivision (b), the elections official shall make reasonable efforts to recruit election officials who are fluent in a language used by citizens described in subdivision (b) and in English. This recruitment shall be conducted through the cooperation of interested citizens and organizations and through voluntarily donated public service notices in the media, including newspapers, radio, and television, particularly those media that serve the non-English-speaking citizens described in subdivision (b).
(2) (A) Within 150 days following each statewide general election, the county elections official shall report to the Secretary of State the number of individuals recruited to serve as members of precinct boards, including the number of individuals recruited who are fluent in each language required to be represented under Section 14201 and Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10101 et seq.). The Secretary of State shall issue uniform standard reporting guidelines.
(B) The Secretary of State shall post all county reports received under subparagraph (A) on his or her Internet Web site within 180 days following each statewide general election.
(3) At each polling place, a member of the precinct board shall identify the languages spoken by him or her, other than English, by wearing a name tag, button, sticker, lanyard, or other mechanism, as determined by the county elections official. The text indicating the language skills of the member of the precinct board shall be in the non-English language or languages spoken by that member.
(d) At least 14 days before an election, the elections official shall prepare and make available to the public a list of the precincts to which officials were appointed pursuant to this section, and the language or languages other than English in which they will provide assistance.

SEC. 4.

 Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 13400) is added to Division 13 of the Elections Code, to read:
CHAPTER  5. Facsimile Copies of Ballots

13400.
 (a) A voter may request that a facsimile copy of his or her ballot in the language of his or her preference be sent to him or her by regular mail or electronic mail if the voter lives in a precinct that requires a facsimile copy of the ballot in that language pursuant to Section 14201. The county elections officer shall provide instructions to voters in the county voter information guide and on the county elections Internet Web site on how to request a facsimile copy of a ballot, in all languages that the county is required to provide facsimile copies of ballots. A voter may request a facsimile copy of a ballot by telephone, mail, online, or when requesting a vote by mail ballot from the county up to four days before election day. no later than seven days before election day.
(b) The county elections official shall prepare the requested facsimile copies described in subdivision (a) no later than 10 days before election day.
(1)Requests day. Requests received by the county elections official 10 days or more before election day shall be processed by the 10th day prior to election day.

(2)All requests received by the county elections official shall be processed by the fourth day prior to election day. Requests received after the fourth day prior to election day need not be processed.

(c) This section does not limit an elections official from distributing facsimile copies of the ballot more widely than as required by subdivision (a) or earlier than required by subdivision (b).

SEC. 5.

 Section 14200 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

14200.
 A member of each precinct board shall cause the following voting information to be publicly posted at each polling place on the day of each election:
(a) A sample version of the ballot that will be used for the election.
(b) Information regarding the date of the election and the hours during which polling places will be open.
(c) Instructions on how to vote, including how to cast a vote and how to cast a provisional ballot.
(d) Instructions for mail-in registrants and first-time voters under Section 303(b) of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-252).
(e) General information on voting rights under applicable federal and state laws, including information on the right of an individual to cast a provisional ballot and instructions on how to contact the appropriate officials if these rights are alleged to have been violated.
(f) General information on federal and state laws regarding prohibitions on acts of fraud and misrepresentation as they pertain to elections.
(g) Information regarding the languages in which members of the precinct board can assist voters. The information shall be provided in English and all of the languages spoken by the members.

SEC. 6.

 Section 14201 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

14201.
 (a) In counties and precincts where the Secretary of State has determined that it is appropriate, the county elections official shall provide at least two facsimile copies of the ballot with the ballot measures and ballot instructions printed in Spanish, one of which shall be posted in a conspicuous location in the polling place and at least one of which shall be made available for voters at the polling place to use as a reference when casting a private ballot. Facsimile ballots shall also be printed in other languages and provided in the same manner if a significant and substantial need is found by the Secretary of State. A facsimile copy of the ballot available for voters to use in casting a private ballot shall be sufficiently distinct in appearance from a regular ballot to prevent voters from attempting to vote on the facsimile copy.
(b) (1) In determining if it is appropriate to provide the election materials in Spanish or other languages, the Secretary of State shall determine the number of residents of voting age in each county and precinct who are members of a single language minority, and who lack sufficient skills in English to vote without assistance. If the number of these residents equals 3 percent or more of the voting-age residents of a particular county or precinct, or if interested citizens or organizations provide the Secretary of State with information that gives the Secretary of State sufficient reason to believe a need for the furnishing of facsimile ballots, the Secretary of State shall find a need to provide at least two facsimile copies with the ballot measures and ballot instructions printed in Spanish or other applicable language in the affected polling places.
(2) If the Secretary of State determines that the number of voting-age residents in a precinct who are members of a single language minority and who lack sufficient skills in English to vote without assistance exceeds 20 percent of the voting-age residents in that precinct, the county elections official shall provide at least four facsimile copies of the ballot in the language of that language minority, one of which shall be posted in a conspicuous location in the polling place and at least three of which shall be made available for voters at the polling place to use as a reference when casting a private ballot.
(c) (1) In polling places where facsimile copies of the ballot are necessary, members of the precinct boards shall be trained on the purpose and proper handling of the facsimile copies of the ballot and shall be prepared to inform voters of the existence of the facsimile copies of the ballot, as appropriate.
(2) In polling places where facsimile copies of the ballot are necessary, a sign near the index of registration shall inform voters of the existence of the facsimile copies of the ballot. The sign shall be in English and in the language or languages of the facsimile copies available in that polling place.
(d) The county elections official shall provide information on the county elections Internet Web site identifying all polling places in the county and the languages of facsimile copies of the ballot that will be available to voters at each polling place. Explanatory information pertaining to the list of polling places, but not the list itself, shall be available in all languages in which the county provides facsimile copies of the ballot.
(e) The county elections official shall include text in the county voter information guide that refers voters with language needs to the portion of the county elections Internet Web site containing the information specified in subdivision (d). The text shall be in all languages in which the county provides facsimile copies of the ballot.
(f) The Secretary of State shall make the determinations and findings set forth in subdivisions (a) and (b) by January 1 of each year in which the Governor is elected.
(g) In those precincts where ballots printed in a language other than English are available for use by the voters at the polls, providing a facsimile ballot in that particular language is not required.
(h) If, after January 1, 2018, a county selects and adopts a new voting system certified by the Secretary of State pursuant to Article 1 (commencing with Section 19200) of Chapter 3 of Division 19, the county elections official shall offer a translated ballot in lieu of every facsimile copy of the ballot required by subdivisions (a) and (b), and shall ensure that the translated ballots offered under this subdivision are offered in the same way as, and publicized in a similar manner to, the translated ballots required by Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10101 et seq.). A county elections official who meets the requirements of this subdivision is not required to comply with any other subdivision of this section.
(i) It is the intent of the Legislature that non-English-speaking citizens, like all other citizens, should be encouraged to vote. Therefore, appropriate efforts should be made on a statewide basis to minimize obstacles to voting by citizens who lack sufficient skill in English to vote without assistance.

SEC. 7.

 Section 14282 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

14282.
 (a) When a voter declares under oath, administered by any member of the precinct board at the time the voter appears at the polling place to vote, that the voter is then unable to mark a ballot, the voter shall receive the assistance of not more than two persons selected by the voter, other than the voter’s employer, an agent of the voter’s employer, or an officer or agent of the union of which the voter is a member.
(b) The county elections official shall provide information on the county elections Internet Web site and in the county voter information guide informing voters that a voter who is unable to mark a ballot may bring up to two individuals to the polls to assist them in voting as specified in subdivision (a). The information shall be available in all languages for which the county has requirements under Section 14201 of this code and Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10101 et seq.).
(c) A person assisting a voter shall not divulge any information regarding the marking of the ballot.
(d) In those polling places that are inaccessible under the guidelines promulgated by the Secretary of State for accessibility by the physically handicapped, a physically handicapped person may appear outside the polling place and vote a regular ballot. The person may vote the ballot in a place that is as near as possible to the polling place and that is accessible to the physically handicapped. A precinct board member shall take a regular ballot to that person, qualify that person to vote, and return the voted ballot to the polling place. In those precincts in which it is impractical to vote a regular ballot outside the polling place, vote by mail ballots shall be provided in sufficient numbers to accommodate physically handicapped persons who present themselves on election day. The vote by mail ballot shall be presented to and voted by a physically handicapped person in the same manner as a regular ballot may be voted by that person outside the polling place.

SEC. 8.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains 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.