California taxpayers would pick up the tab for recounts in close statewide elections under soon-to-be-amended legislation that follows criticism of existing state rules during last month’s recount in the controller’s race. Assembly Bill 2194 by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-San Mateo, would require the state to cover the cost of recounts in any statewide contest where the margin is one-tenth of 1 percent or less. Under current law, any voter can request a recount in particular areas as long as they pay for it. If the recount changes the outcome, another voter can request a recount in other places.
Election experts and others assailed California’s rules as unfair after Assemblyman John A. Pérez requested manual recounts in all or parts of 15 counties following his third-place finish, by 481 votes, in the state controller primary June 3. The second-place finisher, Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, accused Pérez of “cherry-picking” favorable areas for votes while Pérez supporters said the law left him no choice. Pérez abandoned the recount July 18, less than two weeks after asking for it.
“Fourteen years after Bush v. Gore, and the Florida fiasco, California still has an antiquated system for recounts and it needs reform,” Mullin said in a statement Thursday. The measure includes an urgency clause and if passed, it would take effect in time for the November election. “We want to move this bill now while the controller’s recount and the issues it raised are fresh in everyone’s minds,” Mullin said.