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AB-1036 Elections: civic outreach and voter engagement.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 09/11/2019 09:00 PM
AB1036:v94#DOCUMENT

Enrolled  September 11, 2019
Passed  IN  Senate  September 04, 2019
Passed  IN  Assembly  September 09, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  August 30, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  August 13, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  May 21, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 02, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1036


Introduced by Assembly Member Aguiar-Curry
(Coauthor: Assembly Member Mullin)

February 21, 2019


An act to amend Sections 2105 and 2131 of, and to add Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 370) to Division 0.5 of, the Elections Code, relating to elections.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1036, Aguiar-Curry. Elections: civic outreach and voter engagement.
(1) Existing law requires the Secretary of State to provide every high school, community college, and California State University and University of California campus with voter registration forms. Existing law also expresses the intent of the Legislature that every eligible high school and college student receive a meaningful opportunity to apply to register to vote.
This bill would create the High School Voter Education Pilot Program to be conducted in Yolo County. Under the pilot program, the Yolo County Elections Office and Yolo County Office of Education would be authorized to conduct mock student government elections on designated high school campuses, using, to the extent possible, the same standards, processes, and voting equipment used in the county for regularly-conducted elections. This bill would require the administering agencies to provide voter registration and preregistration opportunities for eligible students in conjunction with the program, and would require the administering agencies to report to the Legislature regarding the outcome of the program, as specified. The bill would repeal these provisions on January 1, 2027.
(2) Existing law directs the Secretary of State to adopt regulations requiring each county to design and implement voter outreach programs intended to identify qualified electors who are not registered voters, and to register those persons to vote, including regulations prescribing minimum requirements for those programs. Existing law further provides that if the Secretary of State finds that a county has not designed and implemented a program meeting prescribed minimum requirements, the Secretary of State is required to design a program for the county and report the violation to the Attorney General.
This bill would require the Secretary of State, in adopting those regulations, to require each county to periodically update its programs. This bill would also require the Secretary of State to periodically update the Secretary’s own regulations promulgated pursuant to this provision. By imposing a new statutory duty on each county, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
Existing law authorizes the Secretary of State to provide grants for voter outreach purposes.
This bill would broaden the purposes of the voter outreach grant program described above, and it would permit the Secretary of State to provide grant funding pursuant to that provision.
(3) 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.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) In a democracy, political power is inherent in the people and is exercised through the right to vote.
(b) The right to vote is a fundamental right through which the people exercise political power capable of protecting all other rights.
(c) Every citizen of the United States residing in California who is eighteen years of age is guaranteed the right to vote and to have their vote counted, with limited exceptions.
(d) Nonparticipation in elections means that only some people exercise their political power, creating a distortion in representation that can result in some people being denied the protection, security, and benefits to which they are entitled under the Constitution.
(e) In each statewide election in California since 1972, fewer than 60 percent of eligible voters have exercised their fundamental right to vote.
(f) Approximately 20 percent of eligible voters in California are not registered to vote.
(g) In a number of California counties, fewer than 70 percent of eligible voters are registered to vote.
(h) In the 2014 California General Election, only 52 percent of eligible youth were registered to vote and only 8 percent of eligible youth, ages 18 to 24, cast a ballot.
(i) In California, the Secretary of State is the chief elections officer, who administers elections in partnership with county elections officials.
(j) California statutes and regulations direct the Secretary of State and counties to implement programs aimed at increasing voter participation and outreach to nonvoters and to remove administrative obstacles to voting that deter fuller participation.
(k) Some of these voter outreach programs have not been implemented in parts of our state.
(l) Fully implementing existing laws and regulations to increase participation in elections will empower disenfranchised voters to reclaim and exercise their fundamental rights and political power.
(m) Recently enacted legislation promotes the use of public election materials as a tool for disseminating messages that promote awareness of, and encourage participation in, the census. Accordingly, improving voter education and outreach programs that are designed to improve voter participation among historically marginalized or underrepresented communities will also assist in the state’s efforts in communicating the importance of participation in the census and could help improve census participation among historically hard-to-count communities.
(n) Empowering disenfranchised voters at the county level can also reduce barriers between governments and historically marginalized or underrepresented communities, who have the greatest risk of being undercounted in the decennial census.
(o) An accurate and complete census count in each decennial census is foundational to the integrity of a true representative democracy.
(p) It is the intent of the Legislature to reduce nonparticipation in elections to the greatest extent possible by fully implementing existing laws and codifying existing regulations to facilitate outreach to underrepresented groups, with a particular focus on counties with low levels of voter registration and participation and on youth across the state.

SEC. 2.

 Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 370) is added to Division 0.5 of the Elections Code, to read:
CHAPTER  5. High School Voter Education Pilot Program

370.
 (a) For purposes of this chapter, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) “Administering agencies” means the Yolo County Elections Office and the Yolo County Office of Education.
(2) “Pilot Program” means the High School Voter Education Pilot Program authorized by this section.
(b) Notwithstanding any other law, in order to increase civic engagement in a geographically and racially diverse county, the Yolo County Elections Office, in partnership with the Yolo County Office of Education, may conduct, in an odd-numbered year, a High School Voter Education Pilot Program in accordance with this section.
(c) (1) The administering agencies shall identify high school campuses in the county to participate in the pilot program and shall select dates on which to administer the pilot program on each participating school campus.
(2) On the date selected for each campus, the Yolo County Elections Office shall conduct a mock election to elect members of the school’s student government. To the extent possible, the election shall be conducted with the same standards, processes, and voting equipment used in a regularly conducted election in the county.
(3) In conjunction with the pilot program, the administering agencies shall provide voter registration and preregistration opportunities for eligible students.
(d) For each year that the pilot program is conducted, the administering agencies shall evaluate the pilot program and report the results of the evaluation to the Legislature and the Secretary of State. The report shall include statistics relating to the cost of conducting the elections, student participation on each campus disaggregated by grade level, the number of students who registered or preregistered to vote as a result of the pilot program, and any other benefits or problems that arose. The administering agencies may partner with a California public college or university to compile the report required by this subdivision.
(e) A report submitted pursuant to subdivision (d) shall be submitted within twelve months of the last mock election conducted in that year and shall otherwise comply with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
(f) This chapter shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2027, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2027, deletes or extends that date.

SEC. 3.

 Section 2105 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

2105.
 (a) It is the intent of the Legislature that voter registration be maintained at the highest possible level. In furtherance of that goal, the Secretary of State shall do all of the following:
(1) Adopt regulations requiring each county to design and implement programs intended to identify qualified electors who are not registered voters, and to register those persons to vote. Each county shall make available on its internet website its voter registration programs implemented pursuant to this section.
(2) Adopt regulations prescribing minimum requirements for those programs and requiring each county to periodically update its programs.
(3) Periodically update the regulations the Secretary of State has promulgated pursuant to this section.
(b) If the Secretary of State finds that a county has not designed and implemented a program meeting the prescribed minimum requirements, or has not updated its programs as required by regulation, the Secretary of State shall design a program for the county and report the violation to the Attorney General.

SEC. 4.

 Section 2131 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

2131.
 (a) For purposes of this section, “underperforming county” means a county whose voter registration, as recorded in the Secretary of State’s most recent Report of Registration, was less than 72 percent of eligible voters.
(b) The Secretary of State may provide grants to local elections officials, nonprofit corporations, and unincorporated associations for the following purposes:
(1) To conduct voter outreach and voter education programs, in accordance with the requirements of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-252), using funds provided to the state by Sections 101 and 251 of that act.
(2) To increase accessibility for eligible voters with disabilities, in accordance with the requirements of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-252), using funds provided to the state by Section 261 of that act.
(3) To effectuate the Voter Bill of Rights (commencing with Section 2300), with a particular emphasis on education programs in secondary schools in underperforming counties.
(4) To implement the provisions of Chapter 704 of the Statutes of 1975.
(5) To implement Section 2105.

SEC. 5.

 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.