Tuesday, July 7, 2015

SB 450 Working Group reaches consensus, sends work product to legislators

For weeks, the SB 450 Working Group, made up of representatives of the California Secretary of State, state legislators, county election officials, and public advocacy groups, has been meeting via conference call to hash out specific recommendations for this bill, which would abolish local polling stations in California and replace them with an all-mail ballot, complemented with vote centers and ballot dropoff boxes.  The bill is currently pending in the California State Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee and is scheduled to be heard there on July 15th.  

One member of that Working Group (WG) is Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley, who today told Etopia News that the group had completed its work at a meeting on June 2nd, and had submitted it to legislative counsel in Sacramento for disposition at the will of the legislators.  The final form of the bill will be determined by the Elections and Redistricting Committee, after which, if it passes, it will go to the full Assembly for consideration and then back to the Senate for concurrence.  If it passes over all these hurdles, it will be up to Governor Brown to sign it into law, or not, as he sees fit.

According to Kelley, who is also the President of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials (CACEO), here’s what was recommended by the SB 450 Working Group::

For general and primary elections, there should be one vote center for every 30,000 registered voters in the county and this location should be open for 10 days prior to “e-day,” what used to be called “Election Day.”  On e-day itself, there should be one vote center for every 15,000 registered voters.  There also should be a minimum of four vote centers in each county.

As for the drop boxes, there should be one for every 15,000 registered voters in the county, again with a minimum of four.  Since mail-in ballots will be sent to voters 29 days before e-day, the WG recommended that the dropboxes be available 28 days prior to Election Day.

These are the numbers for general and primary elections.  For special elections, the WG recommended one vote center for every 60,000 registered voters, to be open 10 days before e-day, and one for every 30,000 registered voters on e-day itself.

There is nothing in the recommendations, nor is there expected to be anything in the bill itself, about who will pay for instituting these changes.  According to Registrar of Voters Kelley, the Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, has “made a verbal commitment” about providing some state funding separate from this bill.  But, as things stand now, all such costs are to be borne by the individual counties.

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