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AB-1391 Elections: voter language preference.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 09/13/2019 09:00 PM
AB1391:v96#DOCUMENT

Enrolled  September 13, 2019
Passed  IN  Senate  September 04, 2019
Passed  IN  Assembly  September 10, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  August 30, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 22, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1391


Introduced by Assembly Member Bonta

February 22, 2019


An act to amend Sections 2155, 3006, 3007.5, 3007.7, 3022, and 3201 of the Elections Code, relating to elections.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1391, Bonta. Elections: voter language preference.
Existing law specifies the contents of a voter notification regarding party preference, printed vote by mail ballot applications, the uniform electronic vote by mail ballot application prepared and distributed by the Secretary of State, and applications for permanent vote by mail status. The federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 requires counties in the state that have single language minority groups that meet specified literacy and English language proficiency criteria to provide registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, or other materials or information relating to the electoral process in the languages of those minority groups as well as in English.
This bill would require the application materials described above to allow the applicant to specify the preferred language in which the applicant would like to receive future election materials. The bill would require the voter notification described above to include a statement of the voter’s language preference. The bill would require the county elections official to send with the voter notification information regarding the languages in which a voter in the county may receive election materials and instructions on how the voter may change the voter’s language preference. By increasing the duties of county elections officials, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
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 Language Access in Voting Awareness Act.

SEC. 2.

 Section 2155 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

2155.
 (a) Upon receipt of a properly executed affidavit of registration or address correction notice or letter pursuant to Section 2119, Article 2 (commencing with Section 2220), or the federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 20501 et seq.), the county elections official shall send the voter a voter notification by nonforwardable, first-class mail, address correction requested.
(b) The voter notification shall state the party and language preference for which the voter has registered in the following format:
Party: (Name of political party)
Language: (Voter’s language preference)
The voter notification shall be substantially in the following form:

VOTER NOTIFICATION

You are registered to vote. The party preference you chose, if any, is on this card. This card is being sent as a notification of:
1. Your recently completed affidavit of registration.

OR,

2. A change to your registration because of an official notice that you have moved. If your residence address has not changed or if your move is temporary, please call or write to our office immediately.

OR,

3. Your recent registration with a change in party preference. If this change is not correct, please call or write to our office immediately.
You may vote in any election held 15 or more days after the date on this card.
Your name will appear on the roster kept at the polls.
Please contact our office if the information shown on the reverse side of this card is incorrect.
(c) The county elections official shall include on or send with the voter notification card information regarding the languages in which a voter can receive voting materials in the voter’s county pursuant to Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10503), and instructions on how the voter can change the voter’s language preference for that purpose. If space permits, the information and instructions required by this section shall be provided on the card in at least the languages required in the county, and may be provided on the card in all languages required in the state, by Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10503).

SEC. 3.

 Section 3006 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

3006.
 (a) A printed application that is to be distributed to a voter for requesting a vote by mail voter’s ballot shall inform the voter that the application for the vote by mail voter’s ballot must be received by the elections official not later than seven days before the date of the election and shall contain spaces for the following:
(1) The printed name and residence address of the voter as it appears on the affidavit of registration.
(2) The address to which the ballot is to be mailed.
(3) The voter’s signature.
(4) The name and date of the election for which the request is to be made.
(b) (1) The information required by paragraphs (1) and (4) of subdivision (a) may be preprinted on the application. The information required by paragraphs (2) and (3) of subdivision (a) shall be personally affixed by the voter.
(2) An address, as required by paragraph (2) of subdivision (a), may not be the address of a political party, a political campaign headquarters, or a candidate’s residence. However, a candidate, the voter’s spouse, immediate family members, and any other voter who shares the same residence address as the candidate may request that a vote by mail ballot be mailed to the candidate’s residence address.
(3) An application that contains preprinted information shall contain a conspicuously printed statement substantially similar to the following: “You have the legal right to mail or deliver this application directly to the local elections official of the county where you reside.”
(4) A printed vote by mail application that allows a voter to submit the application by mail shall inform the voter of the address for the elections official and specify that address as the only appropriate destination address for mailing the application. This subdivision shall not be construed to prohibit an individual, organization, or group that distributes applications for vote by mail voter ballots from collecting or receiving applications from voters, as described in Section 3008, by means other than having the applications mailed directly to the address of the distributing individual, organization, or group.
(c) The application shall inform the voter that if the voter has declined to disclose a preference for a political party, the voter may request a vote by mail ballot for a particular political party for the partisan primary election, if that political party has adopted a party rule, duly noticed to the Secretary of State, authorizing that vote. The application shall contain a toll-free telephone number, established by the Secretary of State, that the voter may call to access information regarding which political parties have adopted such a rule. The application shall contain a checkoff box with a conspicuously printed statement that reads substantially similar to the following: “I have declined to disclose a preference for a qualified political party. However, for this primary election only, I request a vote by mail ballot for the _________ Party.” The name of the political party shall be personally affixed by the voter.
(d) The application shall provide the voter with information concerning the procedure for establishing permanent vote by mail voter status, and the basis upon which permanent vote by mail voter status is claimed.
(e) The application shall contain an opportunity for the voter to indicate the voter’s preferred language for receiving voting materials for future elections. The language preference question shall be in the language of the application and all languages required by Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10503) in the county, or in the state if the form is being prepared for statewide use. Each response option shall be listed in the language of the application and the language of the option.
(f) The application shall be attested to by the voter as to the truth and correctness of its content, and shall be signed under penalty of perjury.

SEC. 4.

 Section 3007.5 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

3007.5.
 (a) The Secretary of State shall prepare and distribute to appropriate elections officials a uniform electronic application format for a vote by mail voter’s ballot that conforms to this section.
(b) The uniform electronic application shall inform the voter that the application for the vote by mail voter’s ballot must be received by the elections official not later than seven days before the date of the election and shall contain spaces for at least the following information:
(1) The name and residence address of the registered voter as it appears on the affidavit of registration.
(2) The address to which the ballot is to be mailed.
(3) The name and date of the election for which the request is made.
(4) The date of birth of the registered voter.
(c) The uniform electronic application shall inform the voter that if the voter has declined to disclose a preference for a political party, the voter may request a vote by mail ballot for a particular political party for the partisan primary election, if that political party has adopted a party rule, duly noticed to the Secretary of State, authorizing that vote. The application shall contain a toll-free telephone number, established by the Secretary of State, that the voter may call to access information regarding which political parties have adopted such a rule. The application shall list the parties that have notified the Secretary of State of the adoption of such a rule. The application shall contain a checkoff box with a conspicuously printed statement that reads substantially similar to the following: “I have declined to disclose a preference for a qualified political party. However, for this primary election only, I request a vote by mail ballot for the ____ Party.” The name of the political party shall be personally affixed by the voter.
(d) The uniform electronic application shall contain an opportunity for the voter to indicate the voter’s preferred language for receiving voting materials for future elections. The language preference question shall be in the language of the application and all languages required by Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10503) in the county, or in the state if the uniform electronic application is being prepared for statewide use. Each response option shall be listed in the language of the application and the language of the option.
(e) The uniform electronic application shall contain a conspicuously printed statement substantially similar to the following: “Only the registered voter themselves may apply for a vote by mail ballot. An application for a vote by mail ballot made by a person other than the registered voter is a criminal offense.”
(f) The uniform electronic application shall include a statement substantially similar to the following: “A ballot will not be sent to you if this application is incomplete or inaccurate.”
(g) The uniform electronic application format shall not permit the form to be electronically submitted unless all of the information required to complete the application is contained in the appropriate fields.

SEC. 5.

 Section 3007.7 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

3007.7.
 (a) The local elections official may offer a voter the ability to electronically apply for a vote by mail voter’s ballot. If the local elections official offers the uniform electronic application, the electronic application shall be in an interactive internet format to be completed through the local elections official’s secure internet website and may not be a downloadable form. The nondownloadable form shall be of a format that would allow the registered voter making an application for a vote by mail voter’s ballot to enter the required information and submit the single form directly to the elections official’s secure internet website. The local elections official shall make every effort to ensure the security of the submitted information.
(b) If the local elections official offers an electronic application or an application in portable document format (PDF) or an electronic document format, the application shall contain an opportunity for the voter to indicate the voter’s preferred language for receiving voting materials for future elections. The language preference question shall be in the language of the application and all languages required by Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10503) in the county. Each response option shall be listed in the language of the application and the language of the option.
(c) Upon receiving an electronic vote by mail ballot application that contains the required information within the proper time, the elections official shall check the information provided against the voter’s information on file. If the elections official deems the applicant entitled to a vote by mail voter’s ballot, the elections official shall deliver the appropriate vote by mail voter’s ballot by mail or in person.
(d) If the elections official determines that an electronic vote by mail ballot application does not contain all of the required information, or for any other reason is defective, and the elections official is able to ascertain the voter’s address, the elections official may not mail the voter a vote by mail voter’s ballot, but shall mail the voter a notice of defect. The notice of defect shall do both of the following:
(1) Specifically inform the voter of the information that is required or the reason for the defect in the application.
(2) State the procedure necessary to remedy the defective application.
(e) An address, as required by paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 3007.5, may not be the address of any political party, a political campaign headquarters, or a candidate’s residence. However, a candidate, the candidate’s spouse, immediate family members, and any other voter who shares the same residence address as the candidate may request that a vote by mail ballot be mailed to the candidate’s residence address.
(f) Except as provided in Section 3007.5 and this section, all other sections of this code pertaining to vote by mail voter applications, submissions, deadlines, and canvassing shall apply to electronic vote by mail ballot applications and applicants.

SEC. 6.

 Section 3022 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

3022.
 The elections official shall include with the county voter information guide an application for a vote by mail ballot. The application shall contain an opportunity for the voter to indicate the voter’s preferred language for receiving voting materials for future elections. The language preference question shall be in the language of the application and all languages required by Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10503) in the county, or in the state if the application is being prepared for statewide use. Each response option shall be listed in the language of the application and the language of the option.

SEC. 7.

 Section 3201 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

3201.
 Any voter may apply for permanent vote by mail status. Application for permanent vote by mail status shall be made in accordance with Section 3001 or 3102. The voter shall complete an application, which shall be available from the county elections official, and which shall contain all of the following:
(a) The applicant’s name at length.
(b) The applicant’s residence address.
(c) The address where the ballot is to be mailed, if different from the place of residence.
(d) The signature of the applicant.
(e) The applicant’s preference for the language in which the applicant would like to receive voting materials for future elections. The application shall allow the applicant to specify any language required in the state by Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10503). The language preference question shall be in the language of the application and all languages required under Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10503) in the county, or in the state if the form is being prepared for statewide use. Each response option shall be listed in the language of the application and the language of the option.

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.