Buried on page 620 of the state budget are a few small cuts that could change the way Californians vote.
To save $33 million, the bill suspended several state mandates requiring counties to provide voting services that many Californians take for granted. The state no longer requires counties to process all voter registration applications they receive by mail or to send out vote-by-mail ballots to anyone who wants one. Counties still could provide these services, and many probably will, but they won’t be reimbursed by the state.
Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature needed the savings to close a budget gap of $26 billion, said H.D. Palmer, deputy director for external affairs at the state Department of Finance.
“That required any number of difficult choices and reductions, this being one of them,” Palmer said.
Secretary of State Debra Bowen opposed the mandate suspensions because they could cause “widespread confusion” and possibly disenfranchise some voters, said spokeswoman Nicole Winger.
“There is a risk to voters that they could be treated differently county by county,” Winger said. “Some of these suspensions have to do with democracy itself, and some of them have had such minimal savings or even no savings, it wasn’t clear why they had to impose them anyway.”
Full Article: Budget cuts may end mail-in ballots, registration.