SB 72, SB 523 and AB 681 will improve process for voters in 2020
The California Legislature is winding down the first year of its 2019-20 session and the California Voter Foundation is supporting three important bills that, if enacted, will improve California's voting process in advance of the 2020 Presidential election:
- Senate Bill 72, by Senator Tom Umberg (D-Santa Ana) will allow voters to register to vote at all polling places on Election Day starting in 2020.
Under current law, Californians may register on Election Day only at county election or satellite offices, or, if their county has implemented the Voter's Choice Act (VCA) voting model, at vote centers.
SB 72 will ensure voters have equal access to Election Day registration regardless of whether their county has implemented the VCA. Voters who register on Election Day do so "conditionally" and their eligibility is verified before their ballots are counted. If enacted, California will join nine other states and DC in providing Election Day registration at polling places. This bill is currently in Assembly Appropriations. CVF's support letter is online.
- Senate Bill 523, by Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) will require counties to notify voters who forget to sign their vote-by-mail ballot envelopes and help them submit a signature so their ballot will be counted.
Every election, tens of thousands of California voters' ballots go uncounted, primarily because they arrive too late or because of missing or mismatched voters' signatures on ballot envelopes. SB 523, if enacted, will ensure that voters with missing signatures will be contacted by their county election office and provided an opportunity to submit a signature so their ballot gets counted.
If enacted, SB 523, along with SB 759 of 2018, also authored by Sen. McGuire to require outreach to voters with mismatched signatures, will together help reduce the top reasons why some ballots get rejected and ensure more voters ballots are accepted. CVF's support letter is online.
- Assembly Bill 681, by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) will require counties to notify voters of their party registration and presidential voting options before the March 2020 Primary
In 2008 and 2016, California voters experienced widespread confusion when attempting to cast ballots for the Presidential candidates of their choice. Some thought they were independent but were actually registered with the American Independent Party. Many "No Party Preference" voters received ballots in the mail with no presidential candidates on them, failing to respond to an earlier request to state a preference.
If enacted, AB 681 will require counties to notify every registered voter regarding: their current political party preference; the type of ballot they will be able to vote in the Presidential Primary election; voting options for "No Party Preference" voters stating which parties will allow them to participate in their primaries; and how voters can change their registered party preference if desired. This bill will also let voters update their address or party preference before and on Election Day without having to complete an entirely new voter registration application; if SB 72 is also enacted, all voters will be able to update their address or party preference at all voting sites statewide on Election Day. This bill is currently in Senate Appropriations. CVF's support letter is online.