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SB-696 Elections: political parties.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 09/18/2019 04:00 AM
SB696:v93#DOCUMENT

Enrolled  September 17, 2019
Passed  IN  Senate  September 13, 2019
Passed  IN  Assembly  September 10, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  September 06, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  September 03, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  July 05, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  June 24, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  March 27, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 696


Introduced by Senator Umberg

February 22, 2019


An act to amend Section 5001 of, and to add Section 5201 to, the Elections Code, relating to elections, and declaring the urgency thereof, to take effect immediately.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 696, Umberg. Elections: political parties.
Under existing law, a group of electors may qualify a new political party by holding a caucus or convention at which temporary party officers are elected, by designating a party name, and by filing notice with the Secretary of State that the party has organized, elected temporary officers, and has declared its intent to qualify in a primary election. Existing law prohibits the name of a new party from being so similar to the name of an existing party so as to mislead the voters or from conflicting with the name of an existing political body that has previously filed notice with the Secretary of State.
This bill would prohibit the name of a party from including the phrase “no party preference” or “decline to state” or the word “independent” or a variation of that word or those phrases. The bill would require a party that is qualified on the effective date of the bill, but whose name includes a variation of the phrase “no party preference” or “decline to state” or the word “independent,” to file a change of name notice with the Secretary of State by October 29, 2019. The Secretary of State would be required to disqualify, by October 30, 2019, any party that fails to so submit an appropriate change of name notice. The Secretary of State would be required to send related notices, as provided.
This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.
Vote: 2/3   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) When a qualified political party’s name includes the phrase “no party preference” or “decline to state” or the word “independent” it inherently misleads voters and creates voter confusion for voters who wish to not register with any political party and stay independent of political parties.
(2) The state has a compelling interest to avoid voter confusion in the electoral process.
(3) Voter education is ineffective in remedying this voter confusion and thus it is necessary for the Legislature to restrict the use of the phrase “no party preference” or “decline to state” or the word “independent” in the name of qualified political parties.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature that this act be interpreted in a manner to reduce the burden on parties and voters to the maximum extent possible, without compromising this act’s goal of eliminating voter confusion.

SEC. 2.

 Section 5001 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

5001.
 Whenever a group of electors desires to qualify a new political party meeting the requirements of Section 5100 or 5151, that group shall form a political body by:
(a) Holding a caucus or convention at which temporary officers shall be elected and a party name designated. The designated name shall not be so similar to the name of an existing party so as to mislead the voters, shall not include the phrase “no party preference” or “decline to state” or the word “independent” or any variation of that word or those phrases, and shall not conflict with that of any existing party or political body that has previously filed notice pursuant to subdivision (b).
(b) Filing formal notice with the Secretary of State that the political body has organized, elected temporary officers, and declared an intent to qualify a political party pursuant to either Section 5100 or 5151, but not both. The notice shall include the names and addresses of the temporary officers of the political body.

SEC. 3.

 Section 5201 is added to the Elections Code, to read:

5201.
 (a) (1) The Secretary of State shall notify any party that is qualified under this division on the effective date of the act adding this section, but whose name includes any variation of the phrase “no party preference” or “decline to state” or the word “independent,” that the party is legally required to change its name.
(2) The Secretary of State shall notify each voter registered to a party described in paragraph (1) that the voter is registered to a party whose name includes a word or phrase in violation of Section 5001 and informing the voter of the process described in this section for the party’s name change.
(b) (1) A party that is qualified under this division on the effective date of the act adding this section, but whose name includes any variation of the phrase “no party preference” or “decline to state” or the word “independent,” shall file, by October 29, 2019, a change of name notice with the Secretary of State that complies with the requirements in subdivision (a) of Section 5001.
(2) If the change of name is approved by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State shall update, by October 30, 2019, any form, list, notice, ballot, publication, or database containing the names of qualified parties. A registration made on a form containing the prior name of the party shall continue to be accepted and a party preference expression made for the party using the prior name remains valid for the purposes of this division until rescinded by the voter. Any existing list, form, notice, or publication may be altered to comply with this paragraph.
(3) If the party fails to submit an appropriate change of name notice, the Secretary of State shall disqualify the party on October 30, 2019. Upon disqualification, the Secretary of State shall immediately remove the name of the party from any form, list, notice, ballot, publication, or database containing the names of qualified parties. Any voter registered to the party shall be reclassified as a no party preference voter until the voter provides another preference. Any existing list, form, notice, or publication may be altered to comply with this paragraph.
(c) The Secretary of State shall notify each voter registered to a party described in this section as follows:
(1) If the party lawfully changes its name as provided in this section, a notice shall be sent informing the voter of the party’s new name and that the voter shall continue to be registered to the party, but under the new name.
(2) If the party does not lawfully change its name as provided in this section, a notice shall be sent informing the voter that the party has lost its qualification under the Elections Code and that the voter may select a new party preference, but if the voter fails to do so, the voter shall be considered a no party preference voter.

SEC. 4.

 This act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the California Constitution and shall go into immediate effect. The facts constituting the necessity are:
In order to prevent voter confusion, it is necessary for this act to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.