Efforts to pry loose President Donald Trump’s tax returns at the state level have hit a wall, stalling in statehouses across the country including in California, a hotbed of anti-Trump resistance. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation late Sunday that would have forced presidential candidates to make their tax returns public before appearing on the California ballot, marking the death there of a measure once ballyhooed by Democrats and open government advocates as an end run to Trump’s refusal to disclose his tax filings. Democrats have seen similar proposals stall in more than 20 states since Trump’s election. But Brown’s veto here — in a deeply liberal state where Democrats control every statewide office and both houses of the Legislature — marked a new low for the offensive.
Articles about voting issues in California.
If Los Angeles County voters spark a revolution when they cast their ballots for President in 2020, it may not stem from the choices they select but rather the way they did it. The digital age is coming to the ballot box here with a new, publically owned system that the County Clerk plans to begin rolling out next summer. The first major makeover to the region’s voting system since 1968 was a long time coming. “We said ‘why don’t we look at this from a holistic standpoint and from the eyes of a voter?’” County Clerk Dean Logan told the Santa Monica City Council during a presentation of the new system. The County partnered with designers at Palo Alto based IDEO to give southern California elections the Silicon Valley treatment. The design firm was behind the first Apple mouse, the first wearable breast pump (still in beta) and revamped public school cafeterias in San Francisco. The result: new voting booths that integrate smartphones, touchscreens, QR codes and old-fashioned paper. Eight years after the over hall began in 2010, many of the changes to hit L.A. County’s five million voters are procedural, not digital.
Few Californians are likely to spend any time thinking about how carefully they signed their voter registration card years ago. Nor is there much reason to assume that those who vote by mail think much about the neatness of their signature on the envelope containing that absentee ballot. But those two signatures — and whether they’re deemed to match — actually are key to whether the ballot counts. And while voting absentee was once uncommon, it’s now used by millions of Californians, some who will be newly pushed into doing it come 2018. The reality is that current California law is so flexible as to be vague when it comes to what an elections official should do when faced with an absentee voter’s sloppy signature. It simply states that the ballot counts if the official “determines that the signatures compare.”
Citing concerns about election cyber security, San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong has decided to keep neighborhood polling places with an option to vote by mail in 2018, opting out of a state test of an all-vote-by-mail system. Gong said the new model that also would have included a handful of voting centers to be open for multiple days — and expected to increase voter participation and save money — may be implemented for the presidential primaries in March 2020. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill to modernize California elections a year ago. Fourteen counties, including San Luis Obispo, were offered a chance to participate in 2018. So far, Sacramento, Nevada, Napa and San Mateo counties decided to make the switch, according to the State Secretary of State Office.
California: Cyber Security Experts Say California Vote Audit Has Exploitable Problems – capradio.org
Federal officials told California Friday that Russians probed the state’s election system for vulnerabilities before the 2016 election. That’s raising new questions over a bill on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. Cyber security experts say the measure could weaken California’s voting systems. California relies on machines to tabulate the millions of ballots cast during an election, but counties also do a manual audit of one percent of precincts. A bill on Brown’s desk clarifies the audits only have to include ballots cast on or before election night—not provisional or late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots.
Think back a decade: what did your cell phone look like? Now imagine carrying out your normal routine today with that old phone. That scenario sums up the problem facing California’s aging voting system. Around the state, the machines that handle ballots have grown old as technology has advanced. There are also increasing concerns about security threats and how to get more voters to participate in elections. And the pending rollout of a new law could do away with most neighborhood polling locations and nudge more voters to vote by mail. In short, many California voters are facing a major shakeup in how they will be casting ballots. “There is a lot of change going on at once and I do think it’s tricky,” said Kim Alexander, president and founder of the nonprofit California Voter Foundation.
President Donald Trump broke with 40 years of precedent when he refused to release his tax returns during his campaign. Now California lawmakers want to force him to decide between sharing his returns or giving up his spot on the state’s 2020 presidential ballot. California would become the first state in the country to require presidential candidates to release their tax returns if a bill passed by the Legislature last week is signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. But legal scholars say there are significant questions whether the legislation passes constitutional muster. And it’s not clear whether Brown, who didn’t release his own tax returns in his most recent two gubernatorial races, backs the bill. “You can bet that if Governor Brown signs it, the second the ink is dry someone will sue,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School who says there are strong constitutional arguments on both sides of the issue.
Last month, the California legislature did something unheard of — by Washington, D.C., standards. They came together across party lines to amend and extend sweeping cap and trade emissions legislation. Business, agriculture, labor and environmentalists all had a seat at the table. By 2030, California’s population is expected to grow by five million people, yet our greenhouse gas emissions will shrink to 40 percent below 1990 levels. In this era of cynicism and gridlock, how is this possible? The answer may surprise you. It’s not because California is a “blue” state. If that were the reason, New York would be leading the country in legislative innovation, not state house scandals and indictments. Seven years ago, Californians overhauled the political system so that voters have more choices and politicians are incentivized to cooperate and innovate, not grandstand and polemicize.
California: Lawmakers block effort to allow 17-year-olds to vote in California elections | Los Angeles Times
California lawmakers blocked an effort to allow 17-year-olds to vote in local and state elections. Assembly Constitutional Amendment 10, proposed by Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), failed to gather a required two-thirds vote in the Assembly. The proposal aimed to promote early civic engagement. It would have made California the first state to allow 17-year-olds to vote in elections. “This is a bold idea. But bold ideas are required to make significant change,” Low said on the Assembly floor before the vote.
California: The political parties would like voters to kill top-two primary system in 2018 | Los Angeles Times
Political parties and open primaries are the electoral equivalent of oil and water. They may coexist, but they don’t mix. So it’s hardly surprising that neither California’s dominant Democrats nor its fading Republicans have ever really embraced Proposition 14, the sweeping ballot measure that abolished partisan primaries six years ago. Some, in fact, say they’ve seen enough. It’s time to scrap it. “If we don’t get California straightened out for every party, at least give them some kind of chance, then why the hell are we involved in politics at all?” asks Tom Palzer, a Republican from Rancho Cucamonga.