It’s been an expensive few months for counties holding special elections to fill legislative and congressional seats. And it’s not over yet. San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties have had two special ballots already to replace former state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, after her election to Congress in November. Now both counties will have to hold at least one, and probably two, special elections to replace Assemblywoman Norma Torres, who will be sworn in today as Negrete McLeod’s successor, in the 52nd Assembly District. Riverside, San Diego and Imperial counties had to put on a special election to replace former state Sen. Juan Vargas in the 40th Senate District. Fortunately for the counties’ coffers, then-Assemblyman Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, won the March 12 ballot outright, avoiding the need for a runoff. There are more special elections in the offing in San Diego, Los Angeles and the Central Valley. With each ballot costing around $1 million, counties are rallying around legislation sponsored by San Bernardino County that calls for state reimbursement of special election costs in 2012 and 2013.
Articles about voting issues in California.
Independent voters now account for approximately 40 percent of all voters in the United States. Following the national trend, California voters are increasingly leaving the two major parties, with almost 3.7 million voters now registered under “No Party Preference” in the state. Overall voter turnout, however, decreased in 2012 election, with one million fewer Californians casting a ballot in the general election than in previous presidential elections. With independent voters now accounting for 21 percent of the electorate in California, how can the state ensure their voices are heard in Sacramento? Assemblymember Philip Ting proposes exploring online voting with Assembly Bill 19, or the “Internet Voting Pilot Program.” Passed on April 23 by the California Assembly Elections Committee, AB 19 proposes to change the legal definition of “voting system” to include the use of systems connected to the Internet in future California elections. This would authorize the creation of an Internet Voting Pilot Program, under which counties could offer voters the choice to vote online.
California: Misplaced ballots were likely due to human error, elections official says | San Francisco Examiner
An ongoing investigation into 65 ballots that were not found or counted for months after the November election points to human error as the cause, Chief Elections Officer Mark Church has indicated. On April 12, San Mateo County election officials discovered a vault containing uncounted provisional ballots and announced the discovery the next week. Of the 65 ballot envelopes, only 35 were eligible votes, and they did not affect the election results. The investigation launched by Church uncovered that employees placed the ballots inside a covered container within the security vault. As a result, Church said in a statement, the election staff did not see the ballots, which should have been sent to the main elections office for processing, Church said. Although the uncounted votes did not alter the results, they remain a source of concern, according to officials and election observers.
Prosecutors are investigating allegations of voter fraud in Little Armenia, part of a Los Angeles City Council district where two candidates are waging a bitter battle for an open seat. According to a spokeswoman for L.A. County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey, prosecutors are trying to determine whether backers of one candidate illegally filled out mail-in ballots for dozens of voters in the Armenian enclave in East Hollywood. The May 21 election will decide who succeeds Eric Garcetti, who is running for mayor. In a complaint sent to Lacey’s office, an attorney for candidate John Choi accused backers of Choi’s opponent, Mitch O’Farrell, of “widespread voter fraud and illegal electioneering activities.”
California: Canada backs off from Internet voting, for now, while California legislature pushes it forward | FierceGovernmentIT
The Canadian agency charged with conducting national elections has decided against a planned pilot of Internet electoral voting before the 2015 general election due to budget cuts, Canadian media has reported. A report from the agency, Elections Canada, says that it hasn’t ruled out Internet voting, however, and that it “will continue to monitor such trials and developments in other jurisdictions to evaluate the feasibility of undertaking an I-voting project.” The California Assembly, meanwhile, is pressing forward with the possibility of Internet voting, with the Elections Committee approving on April 30 in a 4-3 vote a bill (AB 19) sponsored by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) that would establish an Internet voting pilot program.
California: CGI to implement new centralized statewide voter registration system, VoteCal | Santa Barbara Independent
CGI Group Inc. today announced it will implement California’s new centralized statewide voter registration database system, VoteCal, providing a single official source of voter registration information. The contract is valued at US$38.75 million over four years. VoteCal will connect to multiple state agencies and all 58 county election official offices to improve the efficiency of the voter registration process. Currently, information about new and existing registered voters is separately maintained in county election management systems with the current statewide voter registration database (CalVoter) storing a copy of each county’s voter registration data and refreshing that data based on daily updates.
California: San Francisco goes for the Guinness — 500-page ballot book blockbuster | San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco voters this fall will be treated to some extra reading in the form of a 400- to 500-page ballot guide, thanks mostly to a referendum on the height of the 8 Washington waterfront luxury condo development. “It’s going to look like a phone book,” said Department of Elections head John Arntz. That’s because under city law, the Nov. 5 ballot book, which is mailed to 500,000 voters, must include the “full text” of the referendum as it was presented during the signature drive that put it on the ballot. In this case, that means the city must include more than 500 pages of documents, including those from the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors’ hearings and even copies of studies on shadows that the condos may cast. And it is not going to come cheap.
Strict limits on campaign contributions imposed by voters nearly three decades ago are crumbling in the Los Angeles mayor’s race, with big donors using loosely regulated “super PACs” to help candidates like never before in a citywide election, a Times analysis has found. Of the $17.5 million collected so far to support mayoral hopefuls Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti, roughly one-third — a record $6.1 million — has gone into independent political action committees that can accept contributions of any size. The rise of the parallel campaign finance system, awash in five- and six-figure donations that dwarf the limits approved by voters, has watchdogs of political influence sounding alarms.
As more and more data is analyzed from last November’s election, the impact of the recently-enacted Online Voter Registration (OVR) in California continues to crystallize. Paul Mitchell of Political Data, Inc. (PDI) is one of the most respected number crunchers in the state. He’s a bit like our own Nate Silver, except he specializes in reading the tea leaves after the fact instead of making predictions beforehand. In a recent blog post tied to the annual convening of California Democrats last weekend, Mitchell breaks down the OVR data that likely helped secure Dems their current supermajority.
In use for the first time last year, California’s online voter registration system proved so popular that lawmakers want to build on its success this year. Wider promotion of the system and a push toward online voting are among several election-related bills under consideration as the Legislature approaches a midyear bill deadline. Other changes under consideration would shine more light on campaign financing and update how elections are run.