A major election bill which was enacted provides for a new open primary election procedure. SB 6 (Maldonado) makes statutory changes to SCA 4 (Maldonado) the Top-Two Candidates Open Primary Act which needs to be approved by the voters at the June 8, 2010 election and would take effect January 1, 2011. This open primary will be for a “voter-nominated primary election” for each state elective office and congressional office in California , in which a voter may vote at the primary election without regard to the political party preference disclosed by either the candidate or the voter. The two candidates receiving the two highest vote totals for each office at a primary election, regardless of party preference, would then compete at the ensuing general election. It further provides that a candidate for a congressional or state elective office generally may choose whether to have his/her political preference indicated upon the ballot for that office in the manner to be provided by statutes. This bill would not change existing law as it relates to presidential primaries. This election bill also permits a voter, at the time of registration, to choose whether or not to disclose a party preference and provides that a voter may vote for the candidate of his/her choosing in the primary election, regardless of his/her disclosure or non-disclosure of party preference.
Another major piece of election legislation that was enacted was AB 30 (Price) allowing a person who is 17-years of age to pre-register, provided he/she otherwise meets all eligibility requirements. AB 30 seeks to improve voter participation among younger voters. Once a pre-registrant reaches 18-years of age, there registration would be activated and the voter would receive a sample ballot and other election materials for the first election in which they are eligible to vote. Other states have implemented new registration rules to encourage greater participation by youth. In Hawaii , 16-years old are allowed to pre-register to vote. In the past, the Secretary of State worked with Rock the Vote to create a “birthday card” program where voter registration cards are marketed to more than 30,000 Californians each month on their 18th birthday. To minimize the costs of AB 30, it would not be implemented until the Secretary of State certifies a statewide voter registration initiative that complies with the requirements of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002.
Other election legislation enacted of significance included SB 739 (Strickland) providing that a spouse or domestic partner of an elected officer or a candidate should not receive compensation from campaign funds held by a central committee or a candidate for elective office for services rendered in connection with fundraising for the benefit of the elected officer or candidate; SB 740 (Cedillo) requiring election officials to reject a voted provisional ballot if the provisional ballot envelope is not signed by the voter and requiring that voted provisional ballots and their envelopes be retained for 22 months from the date of federal elections and 6 months for non-federal elections. AB 9 (John A. Perez) providing that a payment of public monies by a state or local government agency can be a contribution or an independent expenditure for the purpose of the Political Reform Act, as specified; AB 269 (Silva) making it a misdemeanor for a member of the public observing specified election procedures to willfully engage in certain conduct to find out the voter’s identity or the voter’s ballot choices; AB 306 (Fuller) requiring the Secretary of State to establish a process whereby voters can opt-out of receiving the state ballot by mail; AB 753 (Adams) standardizing and clarifying terminology and procedures for the preparation of titles, summaries, and ballot labels for state ballot measures; AB 894 (Furutani) requiring the Legislative Analysts Office, to include in his/her fiscal analysis of a state ballot measure, the measure’s estimated impact on the state, and an estimated percentage of the General Fund that would be expended due to the measure’s passage; AB 1134 (Mendoza) clarifying that a voters written request for removal of a signature from an initiative referendum or recall petition does not constitute a petition or paper requiring a declaration of the circular; AB 1337 (Evans) defining “electioneering” as the visible display or audible dissemination of information that advocates for or against any candidate or measure on the ballot within 100 feet of a polling place, an elections official’s office or a satellite voting location; AB 1440 (Swanson) requiring a county elections official to issue a provisional ballot, including any materials necessary to process the ballot, to an emergency worker, who is officially engaged in responding to the proclaimed state of emergency and whose vocation has been identified in an executive order proclaiming the state of emergency; AB 1490 (Galgiani) reducing the number of days that are allowed for the Secretary of State and election officials to certify and report results of certain elections which will prevent the first certification from occurring on a Saturday while giving the Secretary of State more time to compile the results; and AB 1525 (Beall) clarifying the timeline for a voter to request a recount by requiring the request to occur within five days after all counties have complied their canvas.
Election bills that were vetoed included SB 34 (Corbett) which would have placed restrictions on the signature gathering process for ballot initiatives, referendums or recall petitions, and prescribed misdemeanor penalties; SB 172 (Florez) which would have extended the period of time, from two federal general elections to four presidential elections, between the date that a voter's name is placed on the list of inactive voters; SB 288 (Yee) which would have required a candidates alphabet-based name to be phonetically translated if the county is required to provide translated ballot materials in a character-based language, unless certain conditions are met; SB 387 (Hancock) which would have provided that a ballot that contains the personal information of a voter shall be duplicated and counted, instead of being voided; SB 541 (Pavley) which would have required voting system vendors and ballot paper manufacturers to notify the Secretary of State of any flaws or defects that they discover in their products; AB 6 (Saldana) which would have required professional petition firms to register with the Secretary of State and pay a registration fee established by the Secretary, which would be used to maintain an online directory of professional firms; AB 84 (Hill) which would have required elections officials to establish procedures that allows a vote by mail (VBM) voter to find out whether his/her VBM ballot was counted, and, if not, the reason why the ballot was not counted; AB 101 (Anderson) which would have required elections officials to inform vote by mail voters that their ballot must be actually received by elections officials before the polls close on elections day in order to be counted; AB 362 (Miller) which would have provided that it is a crime to remove, reuse, damage, or possess any political sign without authorization; AB 436 (Saldana) which would have incrementally increased the current fee that proponents of an initiative measure are required to pay at the time of submitting the draft of the measure to the Attorney General from $200 to $2,000; AB 686 (Ruskin) which would have allowed a voter to inform precinct board members when he/she needs more than 10 minutes to mark his/her ballot; AB 742 (Saldana) which would have required clerks of the state superior courts to send a list to their election officials specifying the individuals in state prison, or on parole for a felony conviction in order to disqualify only those which current law directs to be disqualified from voting; AB 1068 (Saldana) which would have provided that a contract for circulating a petition or collection signatures for a proposed state or local initiative, referendum or recall measure, that is to be submitted to voters, is void if it makes payments to any person under the contract contingent upon the measure being qualified for the ballot; AB 1096 (Galgiani) which would have required elections officials to provide electronic copies of precinct maps to any interested person; AB 1228 (Yamada) which would have created a pilot program allowing Santa Clara and Yolo Counties to conduct local elections as all-mailed ballot elections, on no more than three different dates in each county; AB 1271 (Krekorian) which would have allowed a vote by mail ballot to be picked up or dropped off by any authorized representative of the vote by mail voter, except candidates and campaign workers; AB 1326 (Huffman) which would have permitted a qualified elective, or the county election's official on behalf, who claims to have completed an affidavit of registration and deposited that affidavit with a third party, as specified, to bring an action in superior court to compel registration.