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SB-663 Recall petitions.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 04/05/2021 09:00 PM
SB663:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  April 05, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 663


Introduced by Senator Newman

February 19, 2021


An act to amend Sections 103 and 11303 of 103, 11041, 11303, and 18650 of, and to add Sections 11048, 11048.1, 11048.2, 11048.3, and 11048.4 to, the Elections Code, and to amend Section 6253.5 of the Government Code, relating to elections.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 663, as amended, Newman. Recall petitions.

Existing

(1) Existing law authorizes a voter who has signed an initiative, referendum, or recall petition to remove their name from the petition by filing a written request to do so with the appropriate elections official prior to the day the petition is filed.
This bill would extend that period by authorizing a voter to file the written removal request until the day prior to the 45th day after the petition is filed.
(2) The California Public Records Act requires state and local agencies to make their records available for public inspection, unless an exemption from disclosure applies. Under the act, state and local recall petitions and related memoranda prepared by county elections officials are not public records and are not open to inspection, except as provided.
This bill would would, unless the number of registered voters eligible to vote in the recall election is less than 50,000, authorize the target of a recall petition to inspect the petition and related memoranda for purposes of communicating with registered voters to determine whether they signed the recall petition and whether they understood the recall petition they may have signed, and to assist registered voters to withdraw their signatures on the recall petition, if they so desire. The bill would require the target or the target’s designated representatives to complete an application, certified under the penalty of perjury, to obtain a copy of the petition from a city or county elections official. The bill would require the elections official to redact the signatures of the signers of the petition before providing it to an applicant, and to maintain records of the application and associated documents for specified periods of time. The bill would prohibit the target, the target’s designated representatives, and entities contracting with them from publicly disclosing the names or addresses of the signers of a recall petition, except as specified, and would specify various requirements relating to ensuring the security of, and safeguarding against unauthorized use of, the information contained in the recall petition. The bill would prohibit a public officer from discriminating against a person based on the fact that the person signed a recall petition. By expanding the scope of the crime of perjury, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
(3) Existing law makes it a misdemeanor for a person to knowingly or willfully permit the list of signatures on an initiative, referendum, or recall petition to be used for any purpose other than qualification of the measure or recall question for the ballot, except as provided by law.
This bill would clarify that this crime also applies to the misuse of personal identifying information on a petition.
(4) Existing law specifies the format of a recall petition.
This bill would require each page of a recall petition to include, at the top of the page, the words “Petition for an Election to Remove from Office:” followed by the title and first and last name of the target of the recall, as specified.
The California Constitution requires local agencies, for the purpose of ensuring public access to the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies, to comply with a statutory enactment that amends or enacts laws relating to public records or open meetings and contains findings demonstrating that the enactment furthers the constitutional requirements relating to this purpose.
This bill would make legislative findings to that effect.

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 no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

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 no reimbursement is required by this act for specified reasons.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

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


SECTION 1.

 (a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that the communication of accurate information to, and well-informed decision making by, voters presented with a petition are important to the integrity of the electoral process. The Legislature further finds and declares that signature gatherers frequently communicate inaccurate information to voters in order to obtain their signatures on petitions, and that deception undermines the integrity of the electoral process.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to do all of the following:
(1) Provide a mechanism for the target of a recall petition to communicate with constituents who may have signed that petition.
(2) Provide a meaningful opportunity for voters who may have signed a recall petition to withdraw their signatures.
(3) Combat the deception of voters by signature gatherers in order to obtain their signatures.

SEC. 2.

 Section 103 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

103.
 (a) (1) A voter who has signed an initiative or referendum petition pursuant to the Constitution or laws of this state shall have their signature withdrawn from the petition upon filing a written request that includes the voter’s name, residence address, and signature with the appropriate county elections official or city elections official prior to the day the petition is filed.
(2) A voter who has signed a recall petition pursuant to the Constitution or laws of this state shall have their signature withdrawn from the petition upon filing a written request that includes the voter’s name, residence address, and signature with the appropriate county elections official or city elections official prior to the 45th day after the petition is filed.
(b) A written request made under this section shall not constitute a petition or paper for purposes of Section 104.

SEC. 3.

 Section 11041 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

11041.
 (a) The proponents shall use the recall petition format provided by the Secretary of State and available from the county elections official or the Secretary of State. Before any signature may be affixed to a recall petition, each page of each section must bear all of the following in no less than 8-point type: following:
(1) At the top of the page, in a 20-point size, black roman type, the text “Petition for an Election to Remove from Office:” followed, on the line immediately below, by the title and first and last name of the officeholder who is the target of the recall. For example:
Petition for an Election to Remove from Office:
Lieutenant Governor John Doe
Petition for an Election to Remove from Office:
State Senator Jane Doe
Petition for an Election to Remove from Office:
Oakland Councilmember John Smith
(2) Following the title, separated by a blank horizontal line, in no less than 8-point type:

(1)

(A) A request that an election be called to elect a successor to the officer. However, if the officer is a justice of the Supreme Court or of a court of appeal, as specified in subdivision (a) of Section 16 of Article VI of the California Constitution, the request shall be that the Governor appoint a successor to the officer.

(2)

(B) A copy of the notice of intention, including the statement of grounds for recall. For purposes of this paragraph, the copy of the notice of intention shall contain the names of at least 10 recall proponents that appear on the notice of intention and that are selected by the proponents. The elections official shall not require the names of more than 10 proponents to be included as part of the language of the notice of intention. The provisions of Section 11023 do not need to be included as part of the language of the notice of intention.

(3)

(C) The answer of the officer sought to be recalled, if any. If the officer sought to be recalled has not answered, the petition shall so state.
(b) All Except for the recall petition title prescribed by paragraph (1) of subdivision (a), all petition sections shall be printed in uniform size and darkness with uniform spacing.

SEC. 4.

 Section 11048 is added to the Elections Code, to read:

11048.
 (a) An application for inspection of or to obtain a copy of a recall petition permitted by law and maintained by the elections official of any city or county shall be made pursuant to this section.
(b) The application shall include all of the following:
(1) The printed or typed name, telephone number, and complete residence address or business address of the applicant, giving street, and number. If no street or number exists, the applicant shall provide a postal mailing address and an adequate designation sufficient to readily ascertain the location.
(2) A written statement by the target of the recall designating the representatives of the target, including the applicant, who will have access to the recall petition or the information contained in it. The written statement shall include the name, telephone number, and complete residence address or business address of each representative, giving street, and number. If no street or number exists, the statement shall provide a postal mailing address and an adequate designation sufficient to readily ascertain the location.
(3) The driver’s license or state identification card number for the applicant and each designated representative of the target of the recall. Other identification approved by the Secretary of State may be used if the applicant or representative does not have a driver’s license or state identification card. The applicant shall certify that the applicant has verified the identification of each designated representative.
(4) A signed statement completed by each of the applicant, the target of the recall, and the target’s designated representatives that reads as follows:
I, ___, acknowledge that it is a misdemeanor under state law (Section 18650 of the Elections Code) to knowingly or willfully allow the signatures, names, or addresses of the signers of a recall petition to be used for any purpose other than communicating with registered voters to determine whether they signed the recall petition and whether they understood the recall petition they may have signed, and to assist registered voters in withdrawing their signatures on the recall petition, if they so desire. I also certify that I will not publicly release the list of recall signers or disclose the name or address of any signer of the recall petition.
(Signature of Proponent) _____
Dated this ________ day of __________, 20___
(c) The elections official shall request the applicant to display the applicant’s identification for purposes of verifying that identifying numbers of the identification document match those written by the applicant on the application form.
(d) The applicant shall certify to the truth and correctness of the content of the application, under penalty of perjury, with the signature of the applicant and their printed name. The applicant shall state the date and place of execution of the declaration.
(e) Completed applications for recall petition information shall be retained by the elections official for five years from the date of application.

SEC. 5.

 Section 11048.1 is added to the Elections Code, to read:

11048.1.
 The elections official of a city or county may insert fictitious names into a recall petition as an investigative and enforcement tool for determining inappropriate or unauthorized uses of recall petition information.

SEC. 6.

 Section 11048.2 is added to the Elections Code, to read:

11048.2.
 (a) The Secretary of State may adopt regulations that describe best practices for storage and security of recall petition information received by an applicant pursuant to Section 11048.
(b) The Secretary of State may require an applicant to take a training course regarding data security as a condition for the receipt of recall petition information if that course is made available, at no cost to the applicant, online or in the county where the application was filed.

SEC. 7.

 Section 11048.3 is added to the Elections Code, to read:

11048.3.
 A person or entity who has received recall petition information pursuant to an application made under Section 11048 shall, following discovery or notification of a breach in the security of the storage of the information, disclose the breach in security to the elections official of the city or county from whom the recall petition information was received. The disclosure shall be made in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay.

SEC. 8.

 Section 11048.4 is added to the Elections Code, to read:

11048.4.
 (a) The target of a recall petition and the designated representatives of the target of a recall petition shall not publicly disclose the name or address of any signer of the recall petition, except that the name or address of a signer may be disclosed to an entity with whom the target or the target’s designated representatives have contracted to provide mass mailing or telephone or electronic media communications using mass distribution technology.
(b) An entity which contracts with the target of a recall petition or the target’s designated representative shall abide by the requirements set forth in subdivision (a) and Section 11048.3. Communications sent by a contracted entity to a signer shall be in the form of a mass communication and shall not be individualized to the signer.
(c) A public officer shall not discriminate against a person on the basis of the fact that the person signed a recall petition.

SEC. 3.SEC. 9.

 Section 11303 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

11303.
 A voter who has signed a recall petition shall have their signature withdrawn from the petition upon filing a written request that includes the voter’s name, residence address, and signature with the elections official prior to the 45th day after the petition section bearing the voter’s signature is filed. A written request made under this section shall not constitute a petition or paper for purposes of Section 104.

SEC. 10.

 Section 18650 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

18650.
 No one shall knowingly or willfully permit the list of signatures and personal identifying information on an initiative, referendum, or recall petition to be used for any purpose other than qualification of the initiative or referendum measure or recall question for the ballot, except as provided in Section 6253.5 of the Government Code. Violation of this section is a misdemeanor.

SEC. 4.SEC. 11.

 Section 6253.5 of the Government Code is amended to read:

6253.5.
 (a) (1) Notwithstanding Sections 6252 and 6253, statewide, county, city, and district initiative, referendum, and recall petitions, petitions circulated pursuant to Section 5091 of the Education Code, petitions for the reorganization of school districts submitted pursuant to Article 1 (commencing with Section 35700) of Chapter 4 of Part 21 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Education Code, petitions for the reorganization of community college districts submitted pursuant to Part 46 (commencing with Section 74000) of Division 7 of Title 3 of the Education Code, and all memoranda prepared by the county elections officials in the examination of the petitions indicating which registered voters have signed particular petitions shall not be deemed to be public records and shall not be open to inspection, except by any of the following:
(A) The public officer or public employees who have the duty of receiving, examining, or preserving the petitions or who are responsible for the preparation of those memoranda.
(B) The target of a recall petition, and the representatives of the target of a recall petition as may be designated by the target in writing, for the purposes of communicating with registered voters to determine whether they signed the recall petition and whether they understood the recall petition they may have signed, and to assist registered voters to withdraw their signatures on the recall petition, if they so desire. This subparagraph does not apply if the most recent report of registration indicates there are fewer than 50,000 registered voters who are qualified to vote in the recall election. A city or county elections official shall provide a copy of a recall petition or produce it for inspection pursuant to this subparagraph following the receipt and verification of the information contained in a completed application form pursuant to Section 11048 of the Elections Code. Before providing a copy of a recall petition to, or producing a recall petition for inspection by, an applicant, the elections official shall redact all signatures from the petition, but not the names and addresses of the signers.
(C) If the petition is found to be insufficient, the proponents of the petition, and the representatives of the proponents as may be designated by the proponents in writing, in order to determine which signatures were disqualified and the reasons therefor.
(2) The Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Fair Political Practices Commission, a district attorney, a school district or community college district attorney, and a city attorney shall be permitted to examine the material described in paragraph (1) upon approval of the appropriate superior court.
(b) (1) If the proponents of a petition are permitted to examine the petition and memoranda pursuant to subdivision (a), the examination shall commence not later than 21 days after certification of insufficiency, and the county elections officials shall retain the documents as prescribed in Section 17200 of the Elections Code.
(2) If the target of a recall petition, or the target’s representatives, are permitted to examine the petition and memoranda pursuant to subdivision (a), the target or the target’s representatives shall destroy all copies of the recall petition and memoranda in their possession no later than 15 days after either the date of the recall election is set or the petition is finally determined to be insufficient.
(c) As used in this section, “petition” means any petition to which a registered voter has affixed their signature.
(d) As used in this section, “proponents of the petition” means the following:
(1) For statewide initiative and referendum measures, the person or persons who submit a draft of a petition proposing the measure to the Attorney General with a request that the Attorney General prepare a title and summary of the chief purpose and points of the proposed measure.
(2) For other initiative and referenda on measures, the person or persons who publish a notice of intention to circulate petitions, or, where publication is not required, who file petitions with the elections official.
(3) For recall measures, the person or persons defined in Section 343 of the Elections Code.
(4) For petitions circulated pursuant to Section 5091 of the Education Code, the person or persons having charge of the petition who submit the petition to the county superintendent of schools.
(5) For petitions circulated pursuant to Article 1 (commencing with Section 35700) of Chapter 4 of Part 21 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Education Code, the person or persons designated as chief petitioners under Section 35701 of the Education Code.
(6) For petitions circulated pursuant to Part 46 (commencing with Section 74000) of Division 7 of Title 3 of the Education Code, the person or persons designated as chief petitioners under Sections 74102, 74133, and 74152 of the Education Code.

SEC. 5.SEC. 12.

 The Legislature finds and declares that Section 4 of this act, which amends Section 6253.5 of the Government Code, furthers, within the meaning of paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution, the purposes of that constitutional section as it relates to the right of public access to the meetings of local public bodies or the writings of local public officials and local agencies. Pursuant to paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution, the Legislature makes the following findings:
By allowing the target of a recall petition to inspect the petition for purposes of communicating with individuals who may have signed the petition in order to prevent the deception of voters by signature gatherers, this act furthers the purposes of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution.
SEC. 6.

No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district under this act would result from a legislative mandate that is within the scope of paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution.

SEC. 13.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district under this act would result either from a legislative mandate that is within the scope of paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution, or because 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.