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Category: California (page 1 of 5)

California Officials Clash With Republican Party Over Unauthorized Ballot Drop Boxes

By Sam Petto

In early October, a controversy was brewing in California as officials launched legal threats against the California Republican Party for its use of “unauthorized” ballot drop boxes. Finding the California Republican Party set up over 100 unauthorized, non-official drop boxes in the state, California officials sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding that GOP officials hand over ballots, disclose the locations of its unauthorized boxes, and cease current ballot collection practices to prevent voter confusion.

In their letter, officials claimed only county officials had the authority to determine the number, location, and hours of availability for drop boxes, and that state law established rules requiring designated ballot retrievers to collect and return ballots. Additionally, the state claimed that the GOP’s boxes violated laws requiring a third-party ballot collector to have their name, signature, and relationship to the voter listed on the ballot pursuant to Elections Code Section 3011(a).Californians have to know who they are signing their ballot over to if they are not depositing it into an official drop box. Here, state officials argued they did not know.

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What You Need to Know About Election Observers in California

By: Josh Turiel

For over a century, election observers, also called poll watchers, have been keeping a vigilant eye on Americans as they cast their ballots. These volunteers observe election processes, particularly in-person voting and absentee ballot counting, to detect fraud and other irregularities. Although often affiliated with impartial civic-minded organizations or government election entities, the two major political parties also routinely employ election observers. Partisan observers were thrust into the spotlight when President Trump rallied his supporters, during a September 2020 nationally televised debate, to descend on polling places to monitor the election. Donald Trump, Jr. used social media to draft an “Army for Trump’s election security operation.” Meanwhile, Joe Biden has recruited over 10,000 volunteer election observers. This year’s hyper-partisanship has stoked fears that inexperienced election observers will sow conflict and chaos at the polls. 

California counties establish their own policies for election observers (those who plan to observe a polling place should seek guidance from local election officials), but state law sets firm boundaries that provide voters with safe, unencumbered access to the voting booth (federal law is not discussed in this post). Most notably, it is a felony to use violence or coercion to intimidate or compel any person to vote, to not vote, or to vote for a particular candidate or ballot measure. This prohibition extends to hiring or arranging for someone else to engage in such behavior. Violators face up to three years imprisonment. 

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California Voters: Don’t Ignore that Address Confirmation Card

By Josh Turiel

If you received an address confirmation notice from your local elections official, you may want to pay attention. In early 2019, California reached a settlement with the conservative group, Judicial Watch, concluding a lawsuit that accused the state of failing to fulfill its responsibilities under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The Act requires that states make a reasonable effort to remove inactive voters – those who have moved out of the jurisdiction or passed away – from voter registration lists. Judicial Watch targeted Los Angeles County because they determined its registration rate was 112% of the voting age population – the result of an absence of reasonable effort to clean its voter rolls.

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Coming To A Stadium Near You: Ballot Drop Boxes Facilitate Early Voting In California’s 2020 General Election

By: Samuel Petto

Visitors to California’s Staples Center will soon be greeted by more than lines of cheering fans for the latest Lakers game. For the first time in its history, the Staples Center will serve as a vote center in the upcoming November election. It will also be a designated vote by mail drop box location for those who prefer to drop off their mail-in ballot provided by the L.A. County Registrar’s office.

The absentee ballot drop box is an increasingly popular option for voters hoping to cast completed mail-in ballots without using the mail. While some states have successfully used ballot drop boxes for years, the coronavirus pandemic has expanded the practice throughout the United States as election officials express concern about the U.S. Postal Service’s capacity to deliver ballots on time. Although some states still prohibit the use of ballot drop boxes due to the risk of voter fraud, localities across California–from Los Angeles to Sacramento–are preparing for voters to cast ballots in record numbers via this method.

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Back to School: Noncitizen Parents in San Francisco Able to Vote in School Board Elections

By: Joseph Montgomery

One year ago, San Francisco voters approved a ballot measure that allows noncitizen parents of K-12 schoolchildren to vote in local school board elections.  This measure, known as Proposition N, received 53% of the vote in the November 2016 election.  Specifically, it allows San Franciscan parents, legal guardians, or legally-recognized caregivers to vote for school board members, regardless of their immigration status.  The person must be of legal voting age and not in prison or on parole for a felony conviction.  Proposition N will become effective for the November elections in 2018, 2020, and 2022, and can only be extended after that through an ordinance by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

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Updating the Golden State: California Begins Implementing New Voting Model

 

 By: Joseph Montgomery 

In the wake of the most recent presidential election, many Americans have closely examined not only whom they vote for, but also how they cast their votes.  Part of this examination includes a look at the actual hardware that allows voters to exercise the fundamental right to vote, and also what methods and services are available to voters before, during, and after state and federal elections.  In California, lawmakers have begun implementing legislation that aims to streamline voting procedures for Californians and update voting hardware. 

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Easy Reading? California’s 224-page Voter’s Guide

By: Tyler Sherman

As November 8—election day—drew closer and Californians geared up to cast their ballots, election officials mailed out the state’s Official Voter Information Guide. The guide listed and explained each of seventeen ballot propositions—the most to appear on a single ballot in sixteen years. But not only was the ballot replete with more propositions than in any election in nearly two decades, the Guide itself set the record of being the longest voter guide in California’s history, at an enormous 224-pages long.

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Driving Up The Numbers: Will California’s Motor Voter Law Dramatically Alter The Golden State’s Electorate?

By: Tyler Sherman

With low voter turnout in the recent 2014 elections, pressure mounted on California legislators to act to increase voter participation. In response, California’s state legislature passed, and Governor Jerry Brown approved, the New Motor Voter Act. In essence, the law will automatically register eligible citizens to vote when they use Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) services, such as obtaining a driver’s license. Slated to go into effect in July of 2017, the law has the potential to dramatically alter the Golden State’s future.

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California’s Competing Death Penalty Propositions: What Happens if Voters Approve Both?

By: Chelsea Brewer

On November 8th, California voters will be faced with competing propositions affecting the fate of the death penalty in the State. Both propositions operate on “the premise that the system is broken” and claim that justice will be best served if passed. However, the voters’ options regarding the death penalty’s future are in direct conflict with each other.

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California Secretary of State Certifies VoteCal Ahead of 2016 General Election

By: Chelsea Brewer

On September 26, 2016, the California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, announced that he certified VoteCal as the State’s centralized system of record for voter registration. The online database seeks to ease the voter registration process by providing citizens a single online database where they can register to vote, check their registration status, find their assigned polling places, and more. Just in time for the November 2016 General Election, voters will even be able to confirm that their absentee mail-in ballot or provisional ballot was counted by their respective county elections officials. This is especially significant given states’ interest in preserving voter confidence in electoral administration in the face of skepticism about whether all votes are actually counted. VoteCal will also facilitate upcoming innovations in California election law after the November General Election, which include Election Day voter registration and the New Motor Voter Act.

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