By KC Jenkins
Last Updated 10/18/2019
The following legislation has been signed into law by the Governor.
AB 49 – California Voter Protection Act of 2019
Requires an elections official to send a vote by mail (VBM) ballot to a voter within five days of receiving the request for a VBM ballot, or within five days of the 29th day before the election for voters who requested a VBM ballot by the 29th day before the election.
Requires a candidate’s alphabet-based name to be phonetically transliterated when the jurisdiction is required to translate ballot materials into character-based languages.
Requires an elections official, when developing the draft plan for the administration of elections conducted pursuant to the California Voter’s Choice Act, to consider, at a minimum, placing a vote center location on a public or private university or college campus.
Requires a text message that supports or opposes a candidate or ballot measure to disclose the name of the candidate or committee that paid for the text message and, in certain circumstances, the top contributors to the committee.
Permits candidates to use campaign funds for childcare expenses incurred while the candidate is engaging in campaign activities.
Establishes default campaign contribution limits for county and city office at the same level as the limit on contributions from individuals to candidates for Senate and Assembly, effective January 1, 2021. Permits a county or city to establish its own contribution limits, which would prevail over these default limits.
Makes numerous changes to the way ballots are formatted and requires the Secretary of State to establish a ballot design advisory committee.
Prohibits the distribution of materially deceptive audio or visual media with actual malice with the intent to injure a candidate’s reputation or to deceive a voter into voting for or against a candidate, unless the materially deceptive audio or visual media includes a disclosure that it has been manipulated.
Revises and standardizes the criteria and process to be used by counties and cities when they adjust the boundaries of the electoral districts that are used to elect members of the jurisdictions’ governing bodies. Requires counties and cities to comply with substantial public hearing and outreach requirements as part of the process for adjusting the boundaries of electoral districts.
Makes numerous, mostly technical changes to the Disclose Act and other provisions of state law governing the content and format of disclosure statements that are required to appear on communications disseminated by candidates and committees.
Codifies various regulations that have been adopted by the Fair Political Practices Commission. These include the limiting prohibitions of gifts to public officials, candidate filing, and lobbyist requisition requirements. It also clarifies the meaning of the word ‘spouse’ to include registered domestic partners.
Makes various minor and clarifying changes to the Political Reform Act, including that the exclusion from the definition of “expenditure” does not apply to communications paid for with public moneys by a state or local government agency and the circumstances under which elected officers, candidates, and committees are required to file pre-election campaign disclosure statements.
Requires a person identified as a treasurer or assistant treasurer on a statement of organization (Form 410) filed in accordance with the Political Reform Act to sign a statement acknowledging they must comply with the duties stated in the PRA and regulations by the FPPC.
Makes various minor and technical changes to the Political Reform Act, including repealing various outdated operative dates and reporting requirements, updating obsolete cross-references, and repealing the definition of a term that is not used in the PRA.
AB 963 – Student Civic and Voter Empowerment Act
Requires public university campuses to engage in civic engagement outreach efforts in partnership with the Secretary of State, including campus-wide events and the designation of a Civic Voter Empowerment Coordinator, and requires the SOS to annually evaluate and report to the Legislature, beginning January 1, 2021, on the results of the program.
Requires the California Complete Count – Census 2020 Office to partner with local contracted educational agencies to make specified information about the 2020 federal decennial census available to students and their parents or guardians at schools. The bill declares that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.
Provides that a voter may not be prohibited from using an electronic device, including a smartphone, tablet, or other handheld device, at a polling place.
This is one of the Assembly Elections & Redistricting Committee’s annual omnibus bills, containing various minor, technical, and conforming changes to provisions of the Elections Code. These include permitting a person authorized by a candidate to return in-lieu petitions to an elections official and requiring a recount request to be filed by 5pm on the fifth day after the official canvass.
Next month’s update will include an additional list of elections and campaign finance bills signed by the Governor this session.