California elections officials want state lawmakers to place a $450 million voting-equipment borrowing measure on the June 2018 ballot, saying that many counties’ voting machines rely on outdated equipment that make them vulnerable to breakdowns and hacking. The bond measure in Assembly Bill 668 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales Fletcher, D-San Diego, would be more than double the size of the last voting machine borrowing proposal to go on the ballot. In March 2002, voters approved Proposition 41, a $200 million bond prompted by disputed Florida presidential vote in 2000 that highlighted hanging chads and other voting equipment problems. Some of the machines purchased with Proposition 41 money later were decertified after state officials imposed new paper-trail requirements and other rules. Counties either retrofitted machines to bring them into compliance, or pulled older equipment back into use.
Articles about voting issues in California.
Donald Trump’s characterization of Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists during his presidential campaign angered Heidi Sainz, whose family is from Mexico and who has close friends who are immigrants. She was also upset that she couldn’t do anything about it at the ballot box because she was a year shy of being able to vote. Sainz favors a bill in the California Legislature that would lower the voting age to 17, which she thinks would give a voice to more people affected by the outcome of elections. “Looking at all the protests throughout this year throughout all the high schools across the nation, we could see a lot of the minors were protesting because they felt as if they didn’t have a voice,” said Sainz, a senior at Inderkum High School in Sacramento.
California: In narrow election, downtown votes against creating neighborhood council for skid row | Los Angeles Times
Downtown residents and business people narrowly defeated a proposal to form a separate neighborhood council for skid row, the city’s epicenter of homelessness, but the measure organizers said Friday that they would continue to press for a stronger voice for their community. People with ties to a broad swath of downtown interests voted 826 to 764 against a breakaway council for the 10,000 residents of skid row’s tents, renovated slum hotels and apartments, according to an unofficial tally. The results will not be certified until challenges or recount requests, if any, are resolved, according to Stephen Box, the director of outreach and communications for the L.A. Department of Neighborhood Empowerment.
California: Secretary of State wants primary election right after Iowa, New Hampshire | The Sacramento Bee
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla moved Tuesday to the forefront of a recurring effort to give statewide voters more influence in the presidential primary. Padilla, a Democrat from Los Angeles who is widely seen as a potential candidate for U.S. Senate, said he wants the state’s June 2020 presidential primary moved up to at least the third Tuesday in March, immediately behind Iowa and New Hampshire. Padilla is supporting state legislation, Senate Bill 568 by Sen. Ricardo Lara, that also would authorize the governor to bump up the primary even earlier if other states move up their primary elections.
California: A voting law meant to increase minority representation has generated many more lawsuits than seats for people of color | Los Angeles Times
Two years ago, the city of Palmdale settled a lawsuit alleging that its system of electing all four council members by citywide votes was rigged against Latinos and other minorities. In addition to a $4.5-million payout, the city agreed to scrap its “at large” voting system and create four separate council districts, including two with Latino majorities. The result? The city had one appointed Latino council member before the rules change. It still has just one, though that member was elected. Facing the threat of similar lawsuits under the California Voting Rights Act, several dozen cities across the state have switched from citywide elections in which all voters choose everyone on the council, to district elections in which geographically divided groups of voters each elect their own representative. And more are preparing to switch. But those efforts have so far failed to deliver a surge of Latino political representation inside California’s city halls.
A new lawsuit claims the city of Santa Clara’s at-large elections violate state law by systematically discriminating against Asian-Americans. The city’s winner-take-all system dilutes minority votes and has prevented Asian-Americans from ever being elected to the City Council, according to the complaint filed last week by retired social worker Wes Mukoyama. In 2016 alone, five Asian-American candidates lost despite the fact that almost 40 percent of the city and a third of its electorate is of Asian descent. “Something is wrong when such a sizeable Asian-American population cannot elect candidates of its choice,” said Mukoyama, who’s represented by civil rights attorney Robert Rubin and the nonprofit Asian Law Alliance.
California: Here’s why California counties can ignore a half-dozen election laws | Los Angeles Times
In the partnership between state and county governments that underwrites California’s elections every two years, one of the partners has racked up a sizable IOU. Yes, it’s the state. And the running tab is almost $76 million. Whether that tab gets paid off, or keeps growing, is an open question. In the meantime, the unpaid bill means local officials can legally refuse to follow a half-dozen election laws. Small ones? Hardly. They could refuse to provide absentee ballots to anyone who wants one. Or perhaps even more provocative in the current election-integrity climate, they could refuse to use long-standing legal rules when asked to verify a voter’s signature on a provisional ballot. No money, no mandated services.
California’s state government should pick up the tab for more local election costs, according to a report released Thursday by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office. California’s 58 counties currently shoulder the costs for federal and state elections, but don’t receive reliable payments to cover those costs. Towns, cities and school districts typically reimburse counties for carrying out their local elections. “The state has a clear interest in secure, timely, and uniform elections,” the LAO report says. “While the state reaps regular benefits from county elections administration, it only sporadically provides funding to counties for election activities.”
Santa Clara County’s gaffe-plagued elections office has made one mistake too many for state officials. An Assembly committee Wednesday approved an audit of Santa Clara County’s Registrar of Voters office requested by Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, who cited a litany of errors since 2010 from erroneous ballots to counting mishaps that could raise doubts about the validity of election results. “It’s not uncommon for administrative mistakes to be made, but the frequency of these mistakes is of particular concern,” said Low, chair of the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee. “And I don’t know of any other county having such issues.”
California: State’s electoral future is rooted in the old-fashioned absentee ballot | Los Angeles Times
For all of the intriguing ideas about improving California elections, there was one undeniable truth at a gathering last week of county officials and activists: The state’s 21st century voting will lean heavily on its greatest electoral innovation of 1864. That would be the absentee ballot. Call it reliable or anachronistic, but the do-it-yourself ballot is the foundation of voting reform in a state now on the cusp of 20 million registered voters. That revamping of elections begins next year in a handful of California counties, closing polling places in garages and schools while asking voters, like soldiers during the Civil War, to vote somewhere else. “Voters are looking for a choice,” said Neal Kelly, Orange County’s registrar at the event sponsored by the Future of California Elections, a nonprofit organization. “And they are looking for voting on their own terms.”