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SB-663 Recall petitions.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 02/19/2021 09:00 PM
SB663:v99#DOCUMENT


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 the Elections Code, and to amend Section 6253.5 of the Government Code, relating to elections.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 663, as introduced, Newman. Recall petitions.
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.
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 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 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.
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, referendum, or recall initiative or referendum petition pursuant to the Constitution or laws of this state shall have his or her 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. A
(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 11303 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

11303.
 A voter who has signed a recall petition shall have his or her 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. 4.

 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 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 the inspection, except by any of the following:
(A) The public officer or public employees who have the duty of receiving, examining examining, or preserving the petitions or who are responsible for the preparation of that memoranda and, if 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.
(C) If the petition is found to be insufficient, by the proponents of the petition petition, and the representatives of the proponents as may be designated by the proponents in writing writing, in order to determine which signatures were disqualified and the reasons therefor. However, the
(2) The Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Fair Political Practices Commission, a district attorney, a school district or a 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” shall mean means any petition to which a registered voter has affixed his or her 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 he or she 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.

 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.