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CVF News Roundup: turnout, results, "too late" ballots, budget news & more

June 12, 2014

Hi Folks,

There is quite a lot of news to report a week after California's June 3 Primary election. In this issue of CVF-NEWS:

-- Kim Alexander, President & Founder
California Voter Foundation

Op-Ed: Voters Had Reasons to Skip California Primary

Last weekend an op-ed I wrote for the Sacramento Bee was published regarding California's declining primary turnout. In it I provided several explanations for California's ongoing decline, among them: a long history of relatively low primary particiaption; declining partisan affiliation; declining home ownership rates; campaigns' micro-targeting messages to only those most likely to vote; and lastly, the media's frequent reporting of predictions of record low turnout.

I was also interviewed by the Sacramento Bee after the election for a news story about it potentially setting a new low for primary turnout. An excerpt is below:

Even though the state has experienced chronically low participation rates over the years, the broader trend is that the most likely voters are not demographically representative of its residents.

Alexander said that worries her most.

"Elections are meant to be a tool through which people are able to govern themselves," she said. "And if you have giant swaths of society opting out of voting and seeing it as something that has nothing to do with them, then they may find other non-civil avenues to create change for themselves. It's really in everyone's interest to expand participation and make sure that everybody feels invited and engaged."

Election Results and Vote Counting Status

Results for California's election are available online from the Secretary of State. Counties are busy counting vote-by-mail and provisional ballots and have until July 4 to report their final results to the Secretary of State.

Also available is the Uprocessed Ballots Report showing how many ballots remain to be counted in each county (the most recent report, published June 11, shows about 236,000 ballots remaining to count statewide).

Many people are watching the results carefully to see which candidates will place second in some contests that are particularly close, and thus move on to face the first place candidate in the November election under California's new "top two" primary system. The race for second place for State Controller is between Democrats John Perez and Betty Yee. At last count, less than 3,000 votes separate the two.

News on "Too late to count" ballots

Last Thursday I visited the Sacramento County elections office to get a look at the ballots that arrived after Election Day and therefore are too late to be counted.

As of last week, there were at least 1,200 such ballots at Sacramento County's office, while Santa Cruz reported having over 600. Likely more have arrived since then.

Unfortunately, it seems many voters mistakenly believe that postmarks count when returning vote-by-mail ballots. There is a bill pending in the legislature, SB 29/Correa, that would change the law to allow ballots received within three days of the election and postmarked by Election Day to be counted.

David Bienick of KCRA News also visited Sacramento County's election office and produced this news report on the late ballots and the prospects for SB 29.

As I commented to KCRA, the only thing worse than people not votiing is people trying to vote and not having their ballots get counted. CVF will be working with other voter outreach groups as well as election officials and the news media to improve voter awareness about the rules for returning VBM ballots for the November election and providing tips to make it count and get it right.

Budget update: Legislature votes to continue election mandates suspension

Last night the Legislature's budget conference committee met and voted to continue suspending the election mandates. The vote was 6-2 with the Republicans voting against. They also voted to do a study to look for other ways to fund mandate activities, which is due to be delivered to the Legislature in January.

CVF, as well as the California Association of County Election Officials (CACEO) have been urging the Legislature to restore the funding to the budget to pay for state-mandated election programs, such as vote-by-mail (CVF's letter to Governor Brown is online). The Senate's budget committee did restore the funding, but the Assembly did not and so it was up to the conference committee to reconcile the two and decide whether to put the money in or leave it out, as the Governor originally proposed.

At the hearing Sen. Mark Leno emphasized (twice) that suspending the mandates was the governor's idea, not the Legislature's. He also said he doesn't believe it is the wisest thing to suspend the mandates but since it was part of "our overall agreement" on the budget he was voting to support the compromise.

The Republicans on the committee did not say anything on this issue specifically, but at the beginning of the hearing Sen. Jim Nielsen expressed his displeasure about receiving the information for the hearing just an hour before it started and having so little time to consider it when the Democrats have had six days to do so, and that it was no way to do the people's business. The Republicans in both houses of the Legislature were supportive of restoring the funding but with the new majority vote requirement for passing the budget the Republicans no longer have much, if any sway in the process.

The budget bill will be voted on this Sunday, June 15 at 4 p.m. CVF will continue to follow this process and keep CVF-NEWS subscribers posted.

FPPC meeting on implementing initiative disclosure reform law (SB 27)

Next week on Tuesday, June 17 the California Fair Political Practices Commission will hold a public meeting to discuss its plans for implementing the provisions outlined in Senate Bill 27 which was signed into law last month. It was supported by CVF and many other groups in favor of providing voters with greater access to information about proposition donors.

SB 27 prohibits campaigns from using nonprofit organizations to shield the identity of donors. It also requires committees that raise $1 million or more to identify their top ten donors, and requires the FPPC to create an aggregate list of top proposition donors across all committees. The law takes effect July 1 and will be in operation for this November's election.

Anyone interested in participating in the FPPC's meeting can do so in person or by phone. Details are available online.

Follow CVF on Twitter!

CVF uses Twitter to help our audience connect with important news and developments in the field of voting and elections, and also to offer live tweeting from conferences and events. An archive of tweets and links to relevant stories is available at!/kimalex3.

Follow @kimalex3 on Twitter to get CVF news tips, opinion and analysis from CVF's president.

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The California Voter Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting and applying the responsible use of technology to improve the democratic process. CVF-NEWS is a free, electronic newsletter featuring news and updates about the California Voter Foundation's projects and activities.

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This page was first published on June 2, 2014 | Last updated on June 18, 2014
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