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SB-1124 Elections: vote by mail ballots.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 02/19/2020 09:00 PM
SB1124:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 1124


Introduced by Senator Borgeas

February 19, 2020


An act to amend Section 3017 of, and to add Section 3017.5 to, the Elections Code, relating to elections.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 1124, as introduced, Borgeas. Elections: vote by mail ballots.
Existing law requires a vote by mail voter to return a voted vote by mail ballot (1) by mail or in person to the elections official, (2) in person to a member of a precinct board at a polling place or vote center, or (3) to a vote by mail ballot dropoff location, as specified. Existing law permits a vote by mail voter who is unable to return the ballot to designate another person to return the ballot. Existing law requires elections officials to establish procedures to track and confirm receipt of a voted vote by mail ballot and to provide that information via online access or a toll-free telephone number.
This bill would require a person who collects and is designated to return vote by mail ballots for persons other than the designated person’s spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or a person residing in the same household as the designated person to register with the Secretary of State, as specified. The bill would require that a registered person be a United States citizen and at least 18 years of age. The bill would require the Secretary of State to assign a registration number to each person and to develop and maintain a publically accessible database with specified information about each registered person. The bill would require a registered person to provide each voter designating the person to return the voter’s ballot with a receipt containing specified information and would prohibit the registered person from offering a voter any form of compensation in exchange for designating the person to return the voter’s ballot. The bill would require a registered person to file a declaration containing specified information and identifying each voter who designated the registered person to return the voter’s vote by mail ballot. The bill would make a violation of these provisions an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than $100 for a first offense and $200 for a second offense. For a third or subsequent offense, the bill would require the Secretary of State to permanently revoke the registered person’s registration. The bill would require the that tracking and confirmation procedures established by elections officials confirm whether a vote by mail ballot was collected and returned by a person required to register pursuant to these provisions. By expanding the scope of the existing crime of perjury, by creating a new crime, and by increasing the duties of local elections officials, this 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 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.

 The Legislature finds and declares the following:
(a) Voting is a sacred and constitutionally protected right that we enjoy as citizens, and the integrity of the voting system should be of the utmost importance to ensure the protection of our democratic republic and constitutional rights.
(b) To avoid the specter of impropriety or interference in our elections, and to secure trust in our system and the validity of election results throughout the State of California, it is necessary to implement standards to combat possible abuses of our system and reinforce our commitment to the fundamental right of every citizen’s voice to be heard.

SEC. 2.

 Section 3017 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

3017.
 (a) (1) All vote by mail ballots cast under this division shall be voted on or before the day of the election. After marking the ballot, the vote by mail voter shall do any of the following:
(A) Return the ballot by mail or in person to the elections official who issued the ballot.
(B) Return the ballot in person to a member of a precinct board at a polling place or vote center within the state.
(C) Return the ballot to a vote by mail ballot dropoff location within the state that is provided pursuant to Section 3025 or 4005.
(2) A vote by mail voter who is unable to return the ballot may designate another person to return the ballot to the elections official who issued the ballot, to the precinct board at a polling place or vote center within the state, or to a vote by mail ballot dropoff location within the state that is provided pursuant to Section 3025 or 4005. The person designated shall return the ballot in person, or put the ballot in the mail, no later than three days after receiving it from the voter or before the close of the polls on election day, whichever time period is shorter. Notwithstanding subdivision (d), a ballot shall not be disqualified from being counted solely because it was returned or mailed more than three days after the designated person received it from the voter, provided that the ballot is returned by the designated person before the close of polls on election day.
(3) The ballot must be received by the elections official who issued the ballot, the precinct board, or the vote by mail ballot dropoff location before the close of the polls on election day. If a vote by mail ballot is returned to a precinct board at a polling place or vote center, or to a vote by mail ballot dropoff location, that is located in a county that is not the county of the elections official who issued the ballot, the elections official for the county in which the vote by mail ballot is returned shall forward the ballot to the elections official who issued the ballot no later than eight days after receipt.
(b) The elections official shall establish procedures to ensure the secrecy of a ballot returned to a polling place and the security, confidentiality, and integrity of any personal information collected, stored, or otherwise used pursuant to this section.
(c) (1) On or before March 1, 2008, the elections official shall establish procedures to track and confirm the receipt of voted vote by mail ballots and to make this information available by means of online access using the county’s elections division Internet Web site. internet website. If the county does not have an elections division Internet Web site, internet website, the elections official shall establish a toll-free telephone number that may be used to confirm the date a voted vote by mail ballot was received.
(2) The tracking and confirmation procedures described in paragraph (1) shall confirm whether a vote by mail ballot was collected and returned by a registered person described in Section 3017.5.
(d) The provisions of this section are mandatory, not directory, and a ballot shall not be counted if it is not delivered in compliance with this section.
(e) (1) A person designated to return a vote by mail ballot shall not receive any form of compensation based on the number of ballots that the person returns and an individual, group, or organization shall not provide compensation on this basis.
(2) For purposes of this paragraph, “compensation” means any form of monetary payment, goods, services, benefits, promises or offers of employment, or any other form of consideration offered to another person in exchange for returning another voter’s vote by mail ballot.
(3) A person in charge of a vote by mail ballot and who knowingly and willingly engages in criminal acts related to that ballot as described in Division 18 (commencing with Section 18000), including, but not limited to, fraud, bribery, intimidation, and tampering with or failing to deliver the ballot in a timely fashion, is subject to the appropriate punishment specified in that division.
(4) A person designated to return a vote by mail ballot for a person other than the designated person’s spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or a person residing in the same household as the designated person shall comply with Section 3017.5.

SEC. 3.

 Section 3017.5 is added to the Elections Code, to read:

3017.5.
 (a) (1) A person who collects and is designated to return vote by mail ballots pursuant to Section 3017 for persons other than those described in paragraph (4) of subdivision (e) of Section 3017 shall register with the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State shall establish registration procedures and prescribe a registration form that contains the following information:
(A) The person’s full name and address.
(B) The name of the political party, candidate, committee, or organization on behalf of which the person is acting.
(C) Whether the person is a volunteer or is receiving compensation to collect and return vote by mail ballots.
(2) A person registered pursuant to this section shall be a United States citizen and at least 18 years of age.
(b) The Secretary of State shall assign a registration number to each person who registers pursuant to subdivision (a). The Secretary of State shall develop and maintain a database containing the name and registration number of each person registered and the information provided in the person’s registration. This information shall be made available to the public through the Secretary of State’s internet website.
(c) A person registered pursuant to this section shall provide a receipt to each voter who designates the person to return the voter’s ballot pursuant to Section 3017. The Secretary of State shall prescribe a form for the receipt that includes the following information:
(1) The registered person’s full name.
(2) The registration number assigned to the registered person by the Secretary of State.
(3) The name of the political party, candidate, committee, or organization on behalf of which the registered person is acting, if applicable.
(4) Whether the person is a volunteer or is receiving compensation to collect and return vote by mail ballots.
(d) A person registered pursuant to this section shall submit a declaration to the Secretary of State at the time that the registered person returns vote by mail ballots. The declaration shall be signed under penalty of perjury and shall include the following:
(1) The person’s full name and address.
(2) The registration number assigned to the person by the Secretary of State.
(3) The name and address of each voter designating the person to return the voter’s vote by mail ballot.
(4) A statement that the person did not coerce any voter to designate the person to return the voter’s vote by mail ballot or offer the voter any form of compensation in exchange for designating the person to return the voter’s vote by mail ballot.
(5) A statement that the person did not alter the ballot after collecting it from the voter.
(6) A statement that the person has read and understands this section and Section 3017.
(e) A person registered pursuant to this section shall not offer a voter any form of compensation in exchange for designating the person to return the voter’s vote by mail ballot.
(f) A violation of any provision of this section is an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100) for a first offense and not more than two hundred dollars ($200) for a second offense. The Secretary of State shall permanently revoke the registration of any registered person who commits a third or subsequent offense.
(g) For purposes of this section, “compensation” means any form of monetary payment, goods, services, benefits, promises or offers of employment, or any other form of consideration offered to another person in exchange for returning another voter’s vote by mail ballot.

SEC. 4.

 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.