Today's Law As Amended


PDF |Add To My Favorites | print page

AB-2530 Ballot processing.(2013-2014)



As Amends the Law Today
As Amends the Law on Nov 21, 2014


SECTION 1.

 Section 3019 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

3019.
 (a) (1)  Upon receiving  receipt of  a vote by mail ballot, the elections official shall compare the signature on the identification envelope with either of the following to determine if whether  the signatures compare:
(A) (1)  The signature appearing on the voter’s affidavit of registration or any previous affidavit of registration of the voter.
(B) (2)  The signature appearing on a form issued by an elections official that contains the voter’s signature and  signature,  that is part of the voter’s registration record. record, and that the elections official has determined compares with the signature on the voter’s affidavit of registration or any previous affidavit of registration of the voter. The elections official may make this determination by reviewing a series of signatures appearing on official forms in the voter’s registration record that have been determined to compare, that demonstrates the progression of the voter’s signature, and makes evident that the signature on the identification envelope is that of the voter. 
(2) (b)  In comparing signatures pursuant to this section, subdivision (a),  the elections official may use the duplicate file of affidavits of registered voters or  facsimiles of voters’ signatures, provided that the method of preparing and displaying the facsimiles complies with the law.
(3) In comparing signatures pursuant to this section, an elections official may use signature verification technology. If signature verification technology determines that the signatures do not compare, the elections official shall visually examine the signatures and verify that the signatures do not compare.
(4) The variation of a signature caused by the substitution of initials for the first or middle name, or both, is not grounds for the elections official to determine that the signatures do not compare.
(b) (c)  (1)  If upon conducting the comparison of signatures pursuant to subdivision (a) the elections official determines that the signatures compare, the elections official he or she  shall deposit the ballot, still in the identification envelope, in a ballot container in the elections official’s his or her  office.
(c) (2)  If upon conducting the comparison of signatures pursuant to subdivision (a) the elections official determines that the signatures do not compare, the identification envelope shall not be opened and the ballot shall not be counted. The elections official shall write the  cause of the rejection shall be written  on the face of the identification envelope only after completing the procedures described in subdivision (d). envelope. 
(d) (1) A minimum of eight days prior to the certification of the election, the elections official shall provide notice to all voters identified pursuant to subdivision (c) of the opportunity to verify their signatures no later than 5 p.m. two days prior to the certification of the election.
(2) The notice and instructions shall be in substantially the following form:
“READ THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY. FAILURE TO FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS MAY CAUSE YOUR VOTE BY MAIL BALLOT NOT TO COUNT.
1. We have determined that the signature you provided on your vote by mail ballot does not match the signature(s) on file in your voter record. In order to ensure that your vote by mail ballot will be counted, the signature verification statement must be completed and returned as soon as possible.
2. The signature verification statement must be received by the elections official of the county where you are registered to vote no later than 5 p.m. two days prior to certification of the election.
3. You must sign your name where specified on the signature verification statement (Voter’s Signature).
4. Place the signature verification statement into a mailing envelope addressed to your local elections official. Mail, deliver, or have the completed statement delivered to the elections official. Be sure there is sufficient postage if mailed and that the address of the elections official is correct.
5. If you do not wish to send the signature verification statement by mail or have it delivered, you may submit your completed statement by email or facsimile transmission to your local elections official, or submit your completed statement to a polling place within the county or a ballot dropoff box before the close of the polls on election day.”
(3) The notice and instructions shall be translated in all languages required in that county by Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10503).
(4) The elections official shall not reject a vote by mail ballot identified pursuant to subdivision (c) if each of the following conditions is satisfied:
(A) The voter delivers, in person, by mail, by fax, or by email, a signature verification statement signed by the voter and the elections official receives the statement no later than 5 p.m. two days prior to the certification of the election, or the voter, before the close of the polls on election day, completes and submits a signature verification statement to a polling place within the county or a ballot dropoff box.
(B) Upon receipt of the signature verification statement, the elections official shall compare the signature on the statement with the signature on file in the voter’s record.
(i) If upon conducting the comparison of signatures the elections official determines that the signatures compare, the elections official shall deposit the ballot, still in the identification envelope, in a ballot container in the elections official’s office.
(ii) If upon conducting the comparison of the signatures the elections official determines that the signatures do not compare, the identification envelope shall not be opened and the ballot shall not be counted. The elections official shall write the cause of the rejection on the face of the identification envelope.
(5) (d)  The signature verification statement shall be in substantially the following form and may be included on the same page as the notice and instructions specified in paragraph (2): variation of a signature caused by the substitution of initials for the first or middle name, or both, shall not be grounds for the elections official to determine that the signatures do not compare. 
“SIGNATURE VERIFICATION STATEMENT
I,, am a registered voter of __________ County,
State of California. I declare under penalty of perjury that I requested and returned a vote by mail ballot. I am a resident of the precinct in which I have voted, and I am the person whose name appears on the vote by mail ballot envelope. I understand that if I commit or attempt any fraud in connection with voting, or if I aid or abet fraud or attempt to aid or abet fraud in connection with voting, I may be convicted of a felony punishable by imprisonment for 16 months or two or three years. I understand that my failure to sign this statement means that my vote by mail ballot will be invalidated.
Voter’s Signature
Address”
(6) An elections official shall include the vote by mail ballot signature verification statement and instructions provided in this subdivision on the elections official’s internet website and shall provide the elections official’s mailing address, email address, and facsimile transmission number on the internet web page containing the statement and instructions.
(7) If the elections official determines that the signatures compare, the official shall use the signature in the signature verification statement, even if returned untimely, to update the voter’s signature for future elections.
(e) (1) In  (A)  Notwithstanding any other law, if   comparing signatures pursuant to this section,  an elections official determines that a voter has failed to sign the identification envelope,  is authorized to use signature verification technology. If signature verification technology determines the signatures do not compare,  the elections official shall not reject the vote by mail ballot if the voter does any of the following: ballot unless he or she visually examines the signatures and verifies that the signatures do not compare. 
(i) Signs the identification envelope at the office of the elections official during regular business hours no later than 5 p.m. two days prior to the certification of the election.
(ii) No later than 5 p.m. two days prior the certification of the election, completes and submits an unsigned ballot statement in substantially the following form:
“UNSIGNED BALLOT STATEMENT
I,, am a registered voter of __________ County,
State of California. I declare under penalty of perjury that I requested and returned a vote by mail ballot and that I have not and will not vote more than one ballot in this election. I am a resident of the precinct in which I have voted, and I am the person whose name appears on the vote by mail ballot envelope. I understand that if I commit or attempt any fraud in connection with voting, or if I aid or abet fraud or attempt to aid or abet fraud in connection with voting, I may be convicted of a felony punishable by imprisonment for 16 months or two or three years. I understand that my failure to sign this statement means that my vote by mail ballot will be invalidated.
Voter’s Signature
Address”
(iii) Before the close of the polls on election day, completes and submits an unsigned ballot statement, in the form described in clause (ii), to a polling place within the county or a ballot dropoff box.
(B) A minimum of eight days prior to the certification of the election, the elections official shall provide notice and instructions to all voters identified pursuant to this subdivision of the opportunity to provide a signature no later than 5 p.m. two days prior to the certification of the election.
(C) If timely submitted, the elections official shall accept any completed unsigned ballot statement. Upon receipt of the unsigned ballot statement, the elections official shall compare the voter’s signature on the statement in the manner provided by this section.
(i) If the elections official determines that the signatures compare, the elections official shall attach the unsigned ballot statement to the identification envelope and deposit the ballot, still in the identification envelope, in a ballot container in the elections official’s office.
(ii) If the elections official determines that the signatures do not compare, the identification envelope shall not be opened and the elections official shall provide notice to the voter pursuant to subdivisions (c) and (d).
(D) An elections official may use methods other than those described in subparagraph (A) to obtain a voter’s signature on an unsigned identification envelope.
(2) Instructions shall accompany the unsigned ballot statement in substantially the following form:

“READ THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY BEFORE COMPLETING THE STATEMENT. FAILURE TO FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS MAY CAUSE YOUR BALLOT NOT TO COUNT.


1. In order to ensure that your vote by mail ballot will be counted, your statement should be completed and returned as soon as possible, but no later than 5 p.m. two days prior to the certification of the election.
2. You must sign your name on the line above (Voter’s Signature).
3. Place the statement into a mailing envelope addressed to your local elections official. Mail, deliver, or have delivered the completed statement to the elections official. Be sure there is sufficient postage if mailed and that the address of the elections official is correct.
4. If you do not wish to send the statement by mail or have it delivered, you may submit your completed statement by facsimile or email transmission to your local elections official, or submit your completed statement to a polling place within the county or a ballot dropoff box before the close of the polls on election day.”
(3) The notice and instructions shall be translated in all languages required in that county by Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10503).
(4) An elections official shall include the unsigned ballot statement and instructions described in this subdivision on the elections official’s internet website and shall provide the elections official’s mailing address, email address, and facsimile transmission number on the internet web page containing the statement and instructions.
(f) A ballot shall not be removed from its identification envelope until the time for processing ballots. A ballot shall not be rejected for cause after the identification envelope has been opened.

SEC. 2.

 Section 14310 of the Elections Code, as amended by Section 1 of Chapter 611 of the Statutes of 2009, is amended to read:

14310.
 (a) At all elections, a voter claiming to be properly registered, but whose qualification or entitlement to vote cannot be immediately established upon examination of the roster  index of registration  for the precinct or upon examination of the records on file with the county elections official, shall be entitled to vote a provisional ballot as follows:
(1) An elections official shall advise the voter of the voter’s right to cast a provisional ballot.
(2) The voter shall be provided a provisional ballot, written instructions regarding the process and procedures for casting the provisional  ballot, and a written affirmation regarding the voter’s registration and eligibility to vote. The written instructions shall include the information set forth in subdivisions (c) and (d).
(3) The voter shall be required to execute, in the presence of an elections official, the written affirmation stating that the voter is eligible to vote and registered in the county where the voter desires to vote.
(b) Once voted, the voter’s ballot shall be sealed in a provisional ballot envelope, and the ballot in its envelope shall be deposited in the ballot box. All provisional ballots voted shall remain sealed in their envelopes for return to the elections official in accordance with the elections official’s instructions. The provisional ballot envelopes specified in this subdivision shall be of  a color different than the color of, but printed substantially similar to, the envelopes used for vote by mail ballots, and shall be completed in the same manner as vote by mail envelopes.
(c) (1) During the official canvass, the elections official shall examine the records with respect to all provisional ballots cast. Using the procedures that apply to the comparison of signatures on vote by mail ballots pursuant to Section 3019, the elections official shall compare the signature on each provisional ballot envelope with the signature on the voter’s affidavit of registration or other signature in the voter’s registration record. If the signatures do not compare or the provisional ballot envelope is not signed, the ballot shall be rejected. A variation of the signature caused by the substitution of initials for the first or middle name, or both, shall not invalidate the ballot.
(2) (A) Provisional ballots shall not be included in any semiofficial or official canvass, except under one or more of the following conditions:
(i) The elections official establishes prior to the completion of the official canvass, from the records in his or her office, the claimant’s right to vote.
(ii) The provisional ballot has been cast and included in the canvass pursuant to Article 4.5 (commencing with Section 2170) of Chapter 2 of Division 2.
(iii) Upon the order of a superior court in the county of the voter’s residence.
(B) (2)  Provisional ballots shall not be included in any semiofficial or official canvass, except upon: (A) the elections official’s establishing prior to the completion of the official canvass, from the records in his or her office, the claimant’s right to vote; or (B) the order of a superior court in the county of the voter’s residence.  A voter may seek the court order specified in this paragraph regarding his or her own ballot at any time prior to completion of the official canvass. Any judicial action or appeal shall have priority over all other civil matters. A fee shall not be charged to the claimant by the clerk of the court for services rendered in an action under this section.
(3) The provisional ballot of a voter who is otherwise entitled to vote shall not be rejected because the voter did not cast his or her ballot in the precinct to which he or she was assigned by the elections official.
(A) If the ballot cast by the voter contains the same candidates and measures on which the voter would have been entitled to vote in his or her assigned precinct, the elections official shall count the votes for the entire ballot.
(B) If the ballot cast by the voter contains candidates or measures on which the voter would not have been entitled to vote in his or her assigned precinct, the elections official shall count only the votes for the candidates and measures on which the voter was entitled to vote in his or her assigned precinct.
(d) The Secretary of State shall establish a free access system that any voter who casts a provisional ballot may access to discover whether the voter’s provisional ballot was counted and, if not, the reason why it was not counted.
(e) The Secretary of State may adopt appropriate regulations for the purpose of ensuring the uniform application of this section.
(f) This section shall apply to any vote by mail voter described by Section 3015 who is unable to surrender his or her unvoted vote by mail voter’s ballot.
(g) Any existing supply of envelopes marked “special challenged ballot” may be used until the supply is exhausted.

SEC. 3.

 Section 14310 of the Elections Code, as amended by Section 3 of Chapter 497 of the Statutes of 2012, is amended to read:

14310.
 (a) At all elections, a voter claiming to be properly registered, but whose qualification or entitlement to vote cannot be immediately established upon examination of the roster  index of registration  for the precinct or upon examination of the records on file with the county elections official, shall be entitled to vote a provisional ballot as follows:
(1) An elections official shall advise the voter of the voter’s right to cast a provisional ballot.
(2) The voter shall be provided a provisional ballot, written instructions regarding the process and procedures for casting the ballot, and a written affirmation regarding the voter’s registration and eligibility to vote. The written instructions shall include the information set forth in subdivisions (c) and (d).
(3) The voter shall be required to execute, in the presence of an elections official, the written affirmation stating that the voter is eligible to vote and registered in the county where the voter desires to vote.
(b) Once voted, the voter’s ballot shall be sealed in a provisional ballot envelope, and the ballot in its envelope shall be deposited in the ballot box. All provisional ballots voted shall remain sealed in their envelopes for return to the elections official in accordance with the elections official’s instructions. The provisional ballot envelopes specified in this subdivision shall be of a color different than the color of, but printed substantially similar to, the envelopes used for vote by mail ballots, and shall be completed in the same manner as vote by mail envelopes.
(c) (1) During the official canvass, the elections official shall examine the records with respect to all provisional ballots cast. Using the procedures that apply to the comparison of signatures on vote by mail ballots pursuant to Section 3019, the elections official shall compare the signature on each provisional ballot envelope with the signature on the voter’s affidavit of registration or other signature in the voter’s registration record. If the signatures do not compare or the provisional ballot envelope is not signed, the ballot shall be rejected. A variation of the signature caused by the substitution of initials for the first or middle name, or both, shall not invalidate the ballot.
(2) (A) Provisional ballots shall not be included in any semiofficial or official canvass, except under one or more of the following conditions:
(i) The elections official establishes prior to the completion of the official canvass, from the records in his or her office, the claimant’s right to vote.
(ii) The provisional ballot has been cast and included in the canvass pursuant to Article 4.5 (commencing with Section 2170) of Chapter 2 of Division 2.
(iii) Upon the order of a superior court in the county of the voter’s residence.
(B)   A voter may seek the court order specified in this paragraph regarding his or her own ballot at any time prior to completion of the official canvass. Any judicial action or appeal shall have priority over all other civil matters. A fee shall not be charged to the claimant by the clerk of the court for services rendered in an action under this section.
(3) The provisional ballot of a voter who is otherwise entitled to vote shall not be rejected because the voter did not cast his or her ballot in the precinct to which he or she was assigned by the elections official.
(A) If the ballot cast by the voter contains the same candidates and measures on which the voter would have been entitled to vote in his or her assigned precinct, the elections official shall count the votes for the entire ballot.
(B) If the ballot cast by the voter contains candidates or measures on which the voter would not have been entitled to vote in his or her assigned precinct, the elections official shall count only the votes for the candidates and measures on which the voter was entitled to vote in his or her assigned precinct.
(d) The Secretary of State shall establish a free access system that any voter who casts a provisional ballot may access to discover whether the voter’s provisional ballot was counted and, if not, the reason why it was not counted.
(e) The Secretary of State may adopt appropriate regulations for the purpose of ensuring the uniform application of this section.
(f) This section shall apply to any vote by mail voter described by Section 3015 who is unable to surrender his or her unvoted vote by mail voter’s ballot.
(g) Any existing supply of envelopes marked “special challenged ballot” may be used until the supply is exhausted.

SEC. 4.

 Section 15101 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

15101.
 (a) Any jurisdiction in which vote by mail ballots are cast may begin to process vote by mail ballot return envelopes beginning 29 days before the election. Processing vote by mail ballot return envelopes may include verifying the voter’s signature on the vote by mail ballot return envelope pursuant to Section 3019 and updating voter history records.
(b) (1)  Any jurisdiction having the necessary computer capability may start to process vote by mail ballots on the 15th seventh  business day before the election. Processing vote by mail ballots includes opening vote by mail ballot return envelopes, removing ballots, duplicating any damaged ballots, and preparing the ballots to be machine read, or machine reading them, including processing write-in votes so that they can be tallied by the machine,  but under no circumstances may a vote count be accessed or released until 8 p.m. on the day of the election. All other jurisdictions shall start to process vote by mail ballots at 5 p.m. on the day before the election.
(2) For the statewide general election to be held on November 3, 2020, any jurisdiction having the necessary computer capability may start to process vote by mail ballots on the 29th day before the election. Processing vote by mail ballots includes opening vote by mail ballot return envelopes, removing ballots, duplicating any damaged ballots, and preparing the ballots to be machine read, or machine reading them, including processing write-in votes so that they can be tallied by the machine, but under no circumstances may a vote count be accessed or released until 8 p.m. on the day of the election. All other jurisdictions shall start to process vote by mail ballots at 5 p.m. on the day before the election.
(c) Results of any vote by mail ballot tabulation or count shall not be released before the close of the polls on the day of the election.

SEC. 4.5.

 Section 15101 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

15101.
 (a) Any jurisdiction in which vote by mail ballots are cast may begin to process vote by mail ballot return envelopes beginning 29 days before the election. Processing vote by mail ballot return envelopes may include verifying the voter’s signature on the vote by mail ballot return envelope pursuant to Section 3019 and updating voter history records.
(b) (1)  Any jurisdiction having the necessary computer capability may start to process vote by mail ballots on the 15th 10th  business day before the election. Processing vote by mail ballots includes opening vote by mail ballot return envelopes, removing ballots, duplicating any damaged ballots, and preparing the ballots to be machine read, or machine reading them, including processing write-in votes so that they can be tallied by the machine,  but under no circumstances may a vote count be accessed or released until 8 p.m. on the day of the election. All other jurisdictions shall start to process vote by mail ballots at 5 p.m. on the day before the election.
(2) For the statewide general election to be held on November 3, 2020, any jurisdiction having the necessary computer capability may start to process vote by mail ballots on the 29th day before the election. Processing vote by mail ballots includes opening vote by mail ballot return envelopes, removing ballots, duplicating any damaged ballots, and preparing the ballots to be machine read, or machine reading them, including processing write-in votes so that they can be tallied by the machine, but under no circumstances may a vote count be accessed or released until 8 p.m. on the day of the election. All other jurisdictions shall start to process vote by mail ballots at 5 p.m. on the day before the election.
(c) Results of any vote by mail ballot tabulation or count shall not be released before the close of the polls on the day of the election.

SEC. 5.

 Section 15320 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

15320.
 Vote by mail ballots and mail ballot precinct ballots returned to the elections office and to the polls on or before  election day that are not included in the semifinal official canvass phase of the election, including any ballots returned to another jurisdiction in the state and forwarded to the elections official who issued the ballot pursuant to Section 3017,  election  shall be processed and counted during the official canvass in the manner prescribed by Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 15100) of Division 15,  and pursuant to the requirements of Section 3019.

SEC. 6.

 Section 15350 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

15350.
 Provisional ballots cast pursuant to Section 14310 shall be processed and counted in accordance with the provisions outlined in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 15100) and pursuant to the requirements of Sections 14310 and 14311.
SEC. 7.
 Section 4.5 of this bill incorporates amendments to Section 15101 of the Elections Code proposed by both this bill and Senate Bill 29. It shall only become operative if (1) both bills are enacted and become effective on or before January 1, 2015, (2) each bill amends Section 15101 of the Elections Code, and (3) this bill is enacted after Senate Bill 29, in which case Section 4 of this bill shall not become operative.
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.